What is the sport of kho-kho and its new ultimate avatar?

The traditional Indian sport has been repackaged for the mass media age.

Kho-Kho is a game similar to tag and has always been thought to have originated in India. The sport is believed to have existed in India in one form or another since ancient times. While the exact origin of kho kho is difficult to pinpoint, it is believed that certain aspects of the game were mentioned in the ancient Indian Mahabharata epic, more specifically in the legendary Chakravyuha incident.

How is the game played?

Kho-Kho is played on a rectangular court with a center lane connecting two poles located at either end of the court. During play, nine players from the chasing team (the attacking team) are on the field, eight of them crouched on the center lane, while three “runners” from the defending team run around the field trying not to get tagged. Each seated player on the chasing team sits in alternate directions from the center lane.

A player on the chasing team (the “active chaser” or “attacker”) may walk around the field at any time to attempt to tag (touch) members of the defending team, scoring one point per day and each defender tagged must do so leave field; However, the active pursuer cannot cross the center lane to access the other half of the field, nor does it only have to run in the direction (facing one of the poles) in which they took their first step.

The chasing team can circumvent these restrictions by either having the active chaser swap roles with a seated teammate (by touching their back while saying “Kho”) who faces and therefore has access to the other half of the field, or runs towards either pole and then changes direction/half. Each team has two rounds to score and two rounds to defend, with each round lasting nine minutes. The team that scores the most points at the end of the game wins.

The culture of the game Kho Kho has many advantages such as: Such as improving endurance, supporting children’s social and intellectual development, and enhancing self-esteem and concentration. The sport is best known in the South Asian countries of India and Pakistan. However, the sport is also well known in areas other than South Asia such as South Africa and England.

Kho Kho over the years

The sport is said to have originated in the Maharashtra region of India and in earlier times Kho-Kho was played on chariots and was called ‘Prettya’ (chariot in Hindi). The current version of the game, which is pursued by individuals on foot, originated in 1914 during the First World War. It was the Deccan Gymkhana club in Pune which was the first to issue formalized rules and regulations for the sport which gave it a much more organized structure. The sport was part of the demonstrations at the 1936 Berlin Olympics along with other Amerindian indigenous sports such as kabaddi and mallakhamb.

The first ever All India Kho Kho Championship was held in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh in 1959-60, while the women’s national championship was held in Kolhapur, Maharashtra in 1960-61. The sport was also showcased during the 1982 Asian Games in New Delhi and the first ever Asian Championship was held in Kolkata in 1996. It was also a medal sport at the 2016 South Asian Games in Guwahati. To date, almost 25 countries have their national teams in this sport.

Ultimate Kho-Kho

In order to spread the word about the sport, The Ultimate Kho-Kho, the first league of its kind, was launched in India in August 2022 and is currently in the league phase with six teams forming part of its very first edition. The six teams are named Chennai Quick Guns, Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Khiladis, Odisha Juggernauts, Rajasthan Warriors and Telugu Yoddhas.

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