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Ultimate Kho Kho on-boards Odisha govt to own fifth franchise

Days before the announcement, Odisha earned silver medals in the Khelo India Youth Games 2022.

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Mumbai: The Odisha government has acquired ownership of a team in the soon-to-be-launched professional league, which can be viewed as a major boost for the Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK).

It will be the Odisha government's second direct sports endeavour; in 2013, it also owned a team—the Kalinga Lancers—in the Hockey India League. Days before the announcement, Odisha earned silver medals in the boys' and girls' Kho Kho competitions in the Khelo India Youth Games 2022.

The Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC)-owned team will be the fifth franchise in the league. OSDPC is collaborating with leading steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) and will be working closely in Ultimate Kho Kho.

Sports and Youth Services minister Tusharkanti Behera said, “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. This is part of our Hon’ble Chief Minister Shri Naveen Patnaik’s vision for sports in Odisha.”

Ultimate Kho Kho CEO Tenzing Niyogi said, “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.”

Four franchises were previously declared by Ultimate Kho Kho. While Capri Global and KLO Sports are the owners of the Rajasthan and Chennai teams, respectively, corporate giants ADANI Group and GMR Group secured the Gujarat and Telangana franchises.

With an exclusive multi-year contract, Ultimate Kho Kho has chosen Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) as its broadcast partner. The action from the league will be aired in English and other regional languages on Sony's sports channels as well as on the OTT service SonyLIV.

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