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Kho kho fraternity hopes it will get global stature

Ileena Dutta

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The recent visit of Indian men’s and women’s kho kho teams to England will give the sport further international exposure, says Sathya Kumar, coach and academic-in-charge at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Bengaluru.
The team played a Test series and a few exhibition matches against England from September 1 to 4.
 “Kho kho is the mother of all games. Kho kho opens doors to all games as it builds balance, strength, endurance, coordination and response,” Sathya Kumar informed The Observer.
The first Asian Championship in kho kho was held in Kolkata. This was followed by The Netaji Subhas Gold Cup Tournament organised by the Hyderabad Sports Association.
In 2000, India played kho kho in the second Asian Championship with Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Nepal. The third such meet was held in Indore in 2016. South Korea participated in the meet.
“The participation of South Korea in the third championship... was indeed a big achievement for this traditional sport,” senior SAI coach C.V. Ramesh said.
Kho kho is mostly confined to rural schools and colleges. Most urban schools pay utmost attention to the development of international-level sports like hockey and football. “In Bengaluru, most schools affiliated to the School Games Federation of India conduct kho kho tournaments,” the coach said.
In June, Nepal visited India for a five-Test series, giving the sport a boost.
“The state government and the Sports Federation have played a major role in uplifting kho kho. SAI provides the Federation cardinal support, but they don’t have any say in the selection of players. SAI, Bengaluru, provides world-class infrastructure for various games at the international level...,” N.P. Rameshan, a sports engineer at SAI, told The Observer.
Murali Krishna, a player at SAI, who left his job at the South Central Railway to play kho kho, said he is optimistic about the sport and believes kho kho will attain a global status in the near future.
“Kho kho’s priority is rising. In 2015-16, the SAF Games, played in North East India, had it. It is considered the biggest achievement for the sport.  Kho kho will get the green signal to be played in the next Asian Games, which will be held in 2022,” he added.