The badminton hall of the Balewadi Sports Complex in Pune has a proven record when it comes to hosting marquee sporting events in India. For Ultimate Kho Kho though, it fit the bill in what was something more essential than just having the capacity to seat crowds, provide air conditioning and lighting for a glitzy affair. It had an architectural design that allowed the main playing surface to be dug up.

That was one of the first thing organisers had to figure out before selecting a venue for the first season of the UKK, which ends on Sunday as the Odisha Juggernauts and Telugu Yoddhas vie for the title.

In a game of kho kho, the two poles placed 24 metres apart, are subject to a great deal of force. Players collide with it at the end of a full-hearted sprint. Some put their entire weight and momentum and use it to slingshot into a sprint after a 180-degree turn. For the poles to stay firm on the spot, the ground needs to be dug 16.5 inches and cemented.

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“We were looking at a venue in Gujarat ahead of this. The venue had a basement underneath the playing area. We went through the architectural blueprints to figure out how thick is the beam and how thick is the cementing so that we could dig 16.5 inches for the pole to sustain itself. It couldn’t work out there, it did work here (in Pune),” said UKK CEO and league commissioner Tenzing Niyogi to

“We started with carbonfibre holes on August 12 (two days before the first match). It didn’t work because it kept moving. The mass needed to hold and drop the centre of gravity. Then it’s screwed in and cemented in place.”

Ensuring the poles are secure though isn’t the only piece of the puzzle when it comes to broadcasting a sport like kho kho. An entirely new formula had to be fleshed out given that this was a first-of-its-kind league for the sport.

Eighteen cameras are set up at the venue, all focusing on the playing area in an attempt to capture every twitch of an athlete’s muscle and every ounce of sweat. Meanwhile there’s the spider cam gliding on its four cables overhead.

“[Spider Cam] is being used for the first time in an indoor league in India, it was only confirmed about a month and a half before the league started,” Niyogi added.

“This is also the first time that we have seen a Sheffield plate being used in India. It rotates and we use it specifically for the pole dives. That is what you see in the super slow motion. They just focus on the pole. And two just focus on the sky dives.”

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The central lane, where attacking players stay crouched during a chase, has a series of small holes dotted along the length. Their purpose however is to house microphones that are meant to capture and amplify the calls of ‘Kho’ and the footsteps of players along the mat – which is “much harder” than the mat used in the Pro Kabaddi League.

It’s harder because players are stopping, sprinting and turning sharply. A softer surface would force them to use more energy while on the sprint.

The entire setup was rehearsed and tested with the players to ensure they’re used to it – especially the roving spider cam – when the competitive matches started.

If you have been watching the matches of the inaugural edition of the league, you’d have seen that the technical aspects of the broadcast of a frantic sport such as kho kho have been captured well, with an ease of viewing. The league is off to a good start in that sense, and there is room for innovations too.