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Ultimate Kho Kho: Young talents dominate Season 2 players draft

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | November 22, 2023 01:36 PM

Bhubaneshwar: As the stage is set for Season 2 of Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) Season 2, young talents from the country have dominated the players draft with six franchises selecting 145 players, including an impressive 33 within the age range of 16 to 18 years old.

A total of 290 players were registered for the Season 2 Players Draft from 18 states as franchises spent Rs 3.9 crore to draft 145 players including 18 retained players.

Vijay Hajare, Adhithya Ganpule and Laxman Gawas were among the star players who were handpicked first by Rajasthan Warriors (owned by Capri Global), Telugu Yoddhas and Chennai Quick Guns (owned by KLO Sports), respectively.

While the retained players were offered Rs 6 lakh each, franchises picked their remaining players from four categories—A (Rs 5 lakh), B (Rs 3 lakh), C (Rs 1.5 lakh) and D (Rs1 lakh). Gujarat Giants and Rajasthan Warriors drafted 25 and 22 players respectively to complete their squads.

Interestingly, it was Maharashtra’s Mahesh Shinde, who became the first pick of the draft for the second season in a row. The 28-year-old defender was drafted by Mumbai Khiladis, which also retained Gajanan Shengal and Sreejesh S after their impressive performances in the inaugural edition of the league.

"We have retained Gajanan and Sreejesh. It was a good draft and there are around 8-10 players from Maharashtra who will play for Mumbai Khiladis. We have also picked some of the players who were part of the team in the last season. You need technique as well as young legs in this game because it’s fast. Keeping such combinations in mind, we have made a team of 26 players for the upcoming season and I hope they will perform well said Punit Balan, co-owner of Mumbai Khiladis.

Teams made interesting choices with a focus on giving opportunity to promising youngsters as Mumbai Khiladis ensured the services of the 16-year-old Sunil Patra from Odisha, while 17-year-olds M Mugilan of Puducherry and Maharashtra’s Ganesh Borkar was drafted by Chennai Quick Guns and Rajasthan Warriors respectively.

Defending champions Odisha Juggernauts also ensured a perfect balance of youth and experience as they selected a strong squad.

"As defending champions, last year we had a very good team so we have retained our major players. Kho-Kho is a very technical game and we gave the responsibility to the coaches, discussed it with them. We had done our homework and picked a very good team. There are many new players and also some upcoming players from Odisha also. We expect that we will defend our title," commented Lilan Prasad Sahu, OSD, Dept of Sports and Youth Affairs, Govt of Odisha.

"Ultimate Kho Kho will be driving young Indian fans in Season 2. From a total Player Pool of 272, franchises drafted 145 players. What makes it absolutely special is 33 players in Season 2 will be young 16 to 18-year-olds. With an average age of 22.5 years, Season 2 is poised to be faster, stronger and bolder visual spectacle for fans across," said Tenzing Niyogi, Ultimate Kho Kho CEO and League Commissioner.

Kho Kho Federation of India (KKFI) president Sudhanshu Mittal said: “The level of entertainment and proficiency of this game has improved in Ultimate Kho Kho. The second season will take it to greater heights and then sky is the limit. Kho-Kho has now been adopted globally because of its speed and entertainment value and a total of 38 countries play Kho-Kho today."

Chennai Quick Guns co-owner Srinath said: “I’m quite happy with the squad that we have. My team has worked really hard for the last 6-7 months. They have been scouting for the players, and talking to them. They made a very wise choice of retaining the marquee players. Though we went for a complete revamp of the team, the core team remains the same.”

PKSV Sagar, CEO, GMR SPORTS which owns Telugu Yoddhas said: "We had the opportunity to get some amazing players exactly the way we planned. These players bring a mix of skill and youth just the right blend for us. Now we are all geared up for a thrilling season ahead — full of teamwork, good vibes, and hopefully a podium finish."


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