The game of Kho Kho, its history and status now

Be surprised to know that this game has a history in the ancient India

A traditional Indian sport that has is played as popular in the lanes of the country with equal enthusiasm and joy. Kho Kho is one of the oldest outdoor Indian sports, and its history dates back to ancient prehistoric India. It is played most often by school children in India and even in neighbouring country Pakistan, and is in fact a very competitive game. This game has always been at the heart of rural India and people from all walks of life like to enjoy a game.

To look from a simpler perspective, it is a form of tag game or say a highly modified version of ‘Run Chase’, Kho Kho was invented in the Indian state of Maharashtra played between 12 players.

Team formation:
Played by teams of 12 nominated out of fifteen, of which nine enter the field who sit on their knees (called the Chasing Team), and three extra (called the Defending Team) who have to try to avoid being touched by members of the opposing team. It is one of the two most popular traditional tag games in the Indian subcontinent, the other being Kabaddi. The sport is widely played across South Asia and has a strong presence in South Africa and England.

Kho-Kho’s status now:
According to various media reports, the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) secretary-general Rajeev Mehta has expressed optimism towards Kho Kho’s inclusion in the 2026 Asian Games roster scheduled to be held in Japan. Kho Kho is currently played by 25 countries across the globe.

It was only recently that the game of Kho Kho was formally recognised by the Olympic Council of Asia during the 18th Asian Games held in Jakarta, Indonesia, in 2018. Three Asian Kho Kho championships have been held so far, in India (1996, 2016) and Bangladesh (2000). According to several reports, as part of bilateral promotion many Kho Kho ‘test matches’ have been played between India and England; India and Nepal, while the next test match is planned between India and Sri Lanka.

Interesting fact:
Extremely simple in nature, the origin of this game is often believed to have been inspired by the Hindu sacred text of Mahabharata.

According to the legend during the war of Mahabharata Dronacharya created the ‘Chakravyuha’- a military defensive circle. Though Abhimanyu was killed in this Chakravyuha fight seven warriors alone, he inflicted heavy causalities over Kauravas. So is the tactic used by Abhimanyu to fight this defensive circle is frequently put in use Kho-Kho. In fact, during the ancient periods the game of Kho-Kho was played using chariots. As the chariots are called ‘Rath’ in Sanskrit and Hindi, the game was then popular by the name ‘Rathera’.

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