This will be the second direct sports venture for the Odisha government, which also owned a team—Kalinga Lancers—in the now defunct Hockey India League in 2013.
The announcement comes days after Odisha won silver medals in both boys and girls categories in Kho Kho during Khelo India Youth Games 2022.
The Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC)-owned team will be the fifth franchise in the league.
“Kho Kho is very popular in many parts of Odisha. In the recent Khelo India Youth Games, our boys and girls played well and won the silver medals. Since it’s a traditional game, we have huge scope to develop it further in the state. Therefore, we have decided to participate in the Kho Kho league,” said Tusharkanti Behera, Minister for Sports and Youth Services in Odisha.
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In the last decade, the Naveen Patnaik-led government has not only hosted some of the major sports events in the country but also developed world-class multi-sport infrastructure. The state also sponsors India’s men’s hockey team.
For UKK, OSDPC is collaborating with steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India, which is already developing the infrastructure of Kho Kho in the state.
“Sports Odisha has been one of the key factors in the sporting revolution of India. Their focussed approach in developing a sport has been impressive. They have created an environment that has encouraged many corporate investments to create access for grassroots development and future champions. And now their association with Ultimate Kho Kho, is a great sign for the development of the sport,” said Tenzing Niyogi, CEO, UKK.
Other franchise owners of UKK include the Adani Group, GMR Group, Capri Global and KLO Sports. They have picked up Gujarat, Telangana, Rajasthan and Chennai teams, respectively.
Ultimate Kho Kho has roped in Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) as its broadcast partner with an exclusive multi-year contract. The action from the league will be broadcast across Sony’s sports channels and also on the OTT platform SonyLIV in English as well as other regional languages.
The league is a collaboration between
chairman Amit Burman and Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI).