Kho-Kho: A Traditional Sport

By Richa Patil:

Kho—kho is a traditional sport of India much popular here. It originated at Pune Gymkana in the state of Maharashtra. Its team in India is under the Kho- Kho Federation of India (K.K.F.I). This game is a great test of participants in terms of physical fitness, strength, speed and stamina. Though there is some discrepancies to the exact timing of the inception of kho-kho and also about the origin of the game, many people say that it is actually a modified form of “Run—chase”.

In this game participants simply need to chase and touch their opponents to win the game. It is a simple game where the players dodge to avoid being touched and hence lose. The speed factor adds thrill to the game. It is helpful in developing some qualities like obedience, discipline, sportsmanship, loyalty between team members.

There is no bar for the participants in this game, and people from all age groups can participate. The game can be played by men, women, and children of all ages and kho-kho does not require a lot of equipments to play. The game requires only a very small piece of evenly surfaced ground that is rectangular in shape, with dimensions of 27m by 15m. The only equipments required for kho-kho are the two poles. The time limit for the game is not more than 37 minutes.

Kho-Kho is a game played in 2 innings by 12 nominated players out of 15, on each side. Initially 9 players start the game and 3 are kept in reserve. One team becomes the chasers and the other the defenders or runners. In the game, a chaser pursues the runners; tags and touches them outing them with the move. Each team has to chase and defend for 9 minutes twice in a match. A defender can be dismissed in three ways: 1) if he is touched by an active chaser with his palm without committing a foul 2) if he goes out of the limits on his own 3) if he enters the limit late. The chaser has to move around the players but the defender can go in and out, even around the players while the chaser is running behind the defender. At the end of the innings there is an interval of 5 minutes. An interval of 2 minutes is given between the turns. Each side alternates between chasing and defence.

The first ever rules on kho-kho were published in Gymkhana Baroda, in 1924.The first national kho-kho championship was organised in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh in 1959-60. The Indian Government has also initiated a number of honourable awards for the game such as the Arjuna Award, Eklavya Award for men, Rani Laxmi Bai award for women, Veer Abhimanyu award for boys under 18, and Janaki award for girls under 16.

Manthan – a Kho-Kho players’ association, was formed by 14 national level kho-kho players a year ago. Recently, it held a Kho-Kho training camp for 147 kids, free of charge, at Vijay Club, Shivaji Park. They hired national-level players from the Bombay Police National kho kho team to train children in a week long programme.

The following championships are organised for this game:

National Championships, Junior National, Sub Junior National Championship, School Championship, Mini School Championship, Primary Mini School Championship, National Women Championship, All India Inter-University Championship and Federation Cup.

Many players have bagged Arjuna awards: Some of them are Shri Shekhar Dharwadkar, Shri Shrirang Inamdar, Usha  Nagarkar, Nilima Sarolkar, Acha Devare.

Kho-kho exemplifies the richness of Indian sports and the need to keep them alive in today’s mainstream.

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