If you’re a kid who grew up in the 1980’s and 90’s in India, kho kho would sound familiar to you. And for those of you who are new to it, ‘Catch me if you can’ is what best describes the traditional Indian sport.
A game played on a rectangular court between two teams of twelve players each,kho kho is a test of speed, strength and stamina. Nine players are allowed to take to the field in one match and every one player down leads to another one joining the team. The contest continues till all players of a team have been sent back.
A clear origin of the game remains untraced but the first book of rules known to be published about it was in 1924 from Gymkhana Baroda (Gujarat). Before the cricket mania that India is known for, Kho kho was being played in almost every corner of the country, by men and women alike. Every village and town had its own teams and every age group had its own lineup. It was fast, fun and extremely popular among the youth.
It was popular in small towns and at school level. But this is changing now. The game has just changed its diversions. League of events, commonly known as the ‘Premier League’, recently inaugurated the ‘Kho-Kho Premier League (KKPL) at Shivaji Park in Maharashtra. Similar to the Kabbadi League, KKPL had its share of shimmer. And it will still be some time before we can see the game becoming as glamorous as cricket. However kho kho has its fans and the event managed to appeal to quite a few. It attracted more than thousand people every day in the south-western corner of the country. It was a blend of Bollywood and politics.
The effort expanded the world of traditional sports, making India look beyond cricket and has served as a great way of keeping up the morale of those interested in it. Events such as these can be revived in schools and can be promoted at the corporate level with its lessons in team spirit, alertness, discipline, obedience and coordination.
Though KKPL has initiated with not-so-big incentives for the winners, youngsters are more than happy with this new-found attention. It is definitely not a grand celebration, but its very beginning is nothing less than a fest for admirers. The contest between the chaser and defender is as good as a wildlife predator and its prey, the only difference being in the hunger for food and the passion for victory