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The Odisha government, through its sports development and promotion company, will own a team in the upcoming Ultimate Kho Kho (UKK) professionals league.

This team will be the fifth franchise in the league and will collaborate with steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India (AM/NS India) for this team. Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC), a wholly owned company of the government of Odisha, and the steel manufacturer will develop the infrastructure for kho kho in the state.

This is going to be the second direct sports venture of the Odisha government, which previously owned a team in the Hockey India League in 2013, the Kalinga Lancers.

Earlier this month, corporate bigwigs Adani Group and GMR Group invested in the Gujarat and Telangana franchises respectively while Capri Global and KLO Sports bought the Rajasthan and Chennai franchises respectively.

“Kho Kho is very popular in many parts of Odisha. In the recent Khelo India Youth Games 2022, our teams won 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 Odisha’s sports and youth services minister Tusharkanti Behera.

Ultimate Kho Kho’s CEO Tenzing Niyogi said, “Sports Odisha’s focused 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."

Sony Pictures Networks India (SPNI) is the official broadcast partner for the event which is likely to begin this year. The league’s chief executive, Niyogi said nearly 200 crore has been earmarked for the league.

The size of the Indian sports industry was estimated to have surpassed 9,500 crore in 2021, said a report by GroupM titled ‘Sporting Nation in The Making’.

A large part of this, though, is on cricket, accounting for 94% of the sports advertising expense.

 

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