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NEW DELHI: The inaugural edition of the Ultimate Kho Kho which begins this Sunday at the Shree Shiv Chhatrapati Sports Complex, Mahalunge, Pune, Maharashtra. League commissioner and CEO of Ultimate Kho Kho, Tenzing Niyogi, said Bollywood actor Apartshakti Khurana will be the marquee presenter of the league and it will be telecast on Sony Sports Network, the official broadcaster of the league.

The six franchises are Chennai Quick Guns, Gujarat Giants, Mumbai Khiladis, Odisha Juggernauts, Rajasthan Warriors, and Telugu Yoddhas. A total of 143 players were picked from the draft that took place last month.

“This is an extremely special moment for all of us here as Kho-Kho is intrinsically entrenched in every Indian’s heart and soul. This sport is played in every school and has extreme nostalgic value. We are extremely proud to bring this ‘mitti ka khel’ in a completely new avatar to the world and these players today are all set to take off the ‘sapnon ki udaan’ while every household gets ready to witness the sporting brilliance that Ultimate Kho Kho envisions to bring," said Niyogi.

“In today’s day and age, we always need a total package. I have done films, shows, travel shows, but the day this came and I had a conversation regarding association with the league, the very first five minutes of the conversation, I knew I had to work with this. This league is very interesting, it is a complete package. I have been into sports throughout; life revolves around sports. I really hope the way you have accepted me as an actor in the films, you accept me here," Khurana said. 

The players have undergone the transformation of being part of a professional sports league set-up and preparing to bring Kho-Kho’s revamped image under the observations of the franchise and coaches with the best training facilities, high-quality fitness, and interesting team bonding sessions, added Niyogi.

This is the country’s first franchise-based Kho-Kho league and is promoted by Amit Burman in collaboration with the Kho Kho Federation of India. It cost about 200 crore to set up, Niyogi had told Mint. 

Gujarat Giants and Mumbai Khiladis will kick-start the first double header of Ultimate Kho Kho Season 1, while Chennai Quick Guns and Telugu Yoddhas will lock horns in the second match of the opening day. The league will go on till 4 September.

In India, sports sponsorships, which saw a dip in 2020 due to the pandemic, surged in 2021 to touch 9,500 crore, according to a report by GroupM India.

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