The game of Kho-Kho is set to enter a new era as a total of India’s 143 best players were hand-picked by six franchises on July 14, 2022 (Thursday) for the inaugural edition of Ultimate Kho Kho in Pune.
India’s first-ever franchise-based Kho-Kho league, promoted by Chairman of Dabur India, Amit Burman, in collaboration with the Kho Kho Federation of India, will be played from August 14 to September 4, 2022, at the Balewadi Stadium in Pune.
A total of 240 registered players from 28 states and union territories were part of the draft process. They were divided into four categories (A, B, C and D) according to their performances in international matches, the recent National Championships and evaluation conducted by the league. It was Maharashtra’s Mahesh Shinde who became the first player to be picked in the draft. The 27-year-old defender was drafted by KLO Sports-owned Chennai Quick Guns.
A total of 34 matches will be played over a period of 21 days in the first season of the league. The knockout matches will be played in a playoff format which will consist of qualifier and eliminator matches.
With Sony Sports Network being the official broadcaster of Ultimate Kho Kho Season 1, the exciting live action will be telecast live in Hindi (SonyTEN 3), English (SonyTEN 1), Tamil and Telugu (SonyTEN 4) as well as on Sony’s OTT platform, SonyLIV. Two matches will be played during the league stage per day, with the first match starting at 7:00 pm (IST).
Ultimate Kho Kho CEO Tenzing Niyogi stated:
“Finally, the Ultimate Kho Kho drafts are over and it was a well-rounded draft which comprises players across the country. We are really happy and proud to see this first step in the progression of creating Ultimate Kho Kho as a mega league in the Indian sporting ecosystem. Now that the franchises will get to work with the players’ camp and the coaching camp till August 1, our endeavour at Ultimate Kho Kho will be to market the game and make this league a grand success.“
Chennai Quick Guns co-owner Srinath Chittoori said:
“We have a balanced squad of experienced and as well as youthful players so we are happy with it. Hopefully, during training, we will analyse their abilities based on that we will form a team. With the number of matches we will know how to form our team.“
Punit Balan, Co-owner of the Mumbai team, commented:
“We had some strategies, we had some players we wanted to select. We had a plan A, B and plan C. Some players which were in our plan A were already picked by other teams but obviously because we have multiple plans and we knew the right strategy, I think a good squad of 24 people for Mumbai Khiladis is ready. I feel it is a very balanced team. The approach is very clear, Mumbai Khiladis and their punchline is Khel Khila Denge, so we know we’ll tell our Khiladis to play their best and go and top the ladder.“
Colonel Vinod Bisht, CEO GMR League Games, owner of Telugu Yoddhas, said:
“Being the first season we have relied on the coaches input and who have gone ahead and suggested names. So we have taken a lot of players from the senior category which is A and B, then have blended them with a lot of youngsters in C and D. So we hope that with the experience and the youth which gives the bigger speed we will be able to do well in the first season.“
Ajit Sharan, Director Capri Global, Owner of Rajasthan Warriors, said:
“As far as we are concerned from the Rajasthan Warrior side, I think we had a very satisfying draft. We are I think quite sure that we will be able to come up with a very successful team and very mature team in the season to come. I think we will give a very tough fight to whoever it is and of course, it depends on how we manage the team which I ensure we will do very well.“
Lilan Prasad Sahu, OSD, Dept of Sports and Youth Affairs, Govt of Odisha, commented:
“Ultimate Kho kho is a very good opportunity for our Odisha Kho-Kho team. We have been doing very well in junior levels and as the Odisha government has owned a franchise now it’s an opportunity for us to contribute towards the growth of this game. I think our team is better than all other teams because we have chosen very good players and mostly we got around 80% of our listed players.“
Satyam Trivedi of Adani Sportsline, which owns Gujarat Giants, stated:
“We are excited to contribute to this game-changing experience through our franchise at UKK League. UKK will bring forth our indigenous sport in a new avatar, and we look forward to being a part of yet another journey of mud to mat. The right team selection is integral to the success of a franchise and a lot depends upon the sequence of the draft. But thanks to our coaches to have aptly strategized and selected the desired talent from a pool of 240 players.”
Chennai Quick Guns: Mahesh Shinde, Rajvardhan Patil, M Vignesh, Ramji Kashyap, Patta Narsaya, S Santhru, Sibin M, Amit Patil, Manoj Patil, Daasari Rao, V Kabilan, Madan, P Jai Prasath, P Anand Kumar, buchannagari Raju, Vijay Vegad, Sachin Gaur, Pritam Chougule, Balvir Singh, Katla Mohan, Venigopal S, Neelakantam Suresh, Jaswant Singh, Vignesh M
Telugu Yoddhas: Pratik Waikar, Rohan Shingade, Sudarshan, Arun S A, Arun Gunki, Deepak Madhav, Avdhut Patil, Prajwal KH, Prajval KH, Adarsh Mohite, Prasad Radye, Subramani Y, Anukul Sarkar, Gavara Venkatesh, Sadanand Meitei, P Hemachandran, Dhruv, Chanish C, Aditya Das, Rokeson Singh, Pitu Reddy and Bojjam Ranjith
Gujarat Giants: Ranjan Shetty, Pothreddy Shivareddy, Mareppa, Suyash Gargate, Sagar Potdar, T Jagannath Das, Rutishbhai Barde, Abhinandan Patil, Akshay Bhangare, Sagar Lengare, Monoj Sarkar, Dhiraj Bhave, S Kavin Raj, Vinayak Pokarde, Govind Bhat, Chinmoy Nandi, Shubham Jambhale, S Sarathkumar, Ajaykumar Mandra, Aniket Pote, Nilesh patil, Saleem Khan, Debendra Nath and Praful Bhange
Juggernauts Odisha: Gowtham MK, Dilip Khandavi, Vishal, Jagannatha Murmu, Aditya Kudale, Nilesh Jadhav, Suraj Lande, Dipesh More, Subhasis Santra, Mahesha P, Avinash Desai, Lipun Mukhi, Dinesh Naik S, Arjun Singh, Suresh Kumar, T Vinod Kumar, Shiv Kumar Sen, Milind Chavrekar, Manoj Ghotekar, Darshanapu Sathish, Gurjinder Singh, Swayam Satyaprakash and Mukesh Prajap
Rajasthan Warriors: Abhijit Patil, Dilrajsingh Sengar, Sushant Hajare, Akshay Ganpule, Hrushikesh Murchavade, Sourabh Adavkar, Suresh Sawant, Majahar Jamadar, Mohammad Taseen, Shailesh Sankapal, Govind Yadav, SK Murtha Ali, Bharat Pradhan, Nikhil B, Yalla Satish, Jithin B, K Dhananjay Singh, Atla Reddy, Tapan Pal, Mahesh M, Biswajit Das, Ashwani Ranjan, Mukesh Maurya and Bhuvneshwar Sah
Mumbai Khiladis: Milind Kurpe, Rohan Kore, Visag S, Shreejesh S, Vijay Hazare, Faizalkhan Pathan, Abhishek Pathrode, Gajanan Shengal, Durvesh Salunke, Rajesh Kumar, Rohit Verma, Avik Singha, Sribin KP, Saurav Kandpal, Abhishek MS, Bichu SS, Rajat Malik, Rahul Sawant, Harish Mohammad, Devendra Dagur, Gaurav, Srijin J and Ummer Rather