PUNE: Watching a women official with her whistle controlling the proceedings of the game was not a regular scene a few years ago but now with the growth of Pro Kabaddi League (PKL) it has become a daily routine.
“It gives a very good feeling when we are doing umpiring duties in all men game. Till now there has not been a single incidence where players disrespected us. Even we get huge support form our male officials, which has made our work easy,” said Sasmita Das who is doing referee duties in PKL Season 5.
In an exclusive interaction with Sakal Times, Sasmita and her senior colleague Jamuna Venkatesh spoke about how they got accustomed to doing referee duties in the men’s game.
“I had never played the game earlier but being an athlete and Kho Kho player I always enjoyed sports. In 2011 one of the kabaddi coaches, Nita Mohanty, advised me to give referee exam. I cleared the exam and started understanding the game,” said Sasmita who began her career as a referee with Junior Nationals.
Jamuna from Karnataka is the first women who become international kabaddi referee in 2002.
“Since my childhood, I am attached with kabaddi. After representing my state in nationals. I shifted my focus to become a referee. As I had knowledge of the game It was not difficult to understand the game but still, I was nervous at the start but slowly I got used to it,” explained Jamuna.
“As a sports person I enjoyed how things were going on but I took bit time learn the rules of the game. Even during matches. Many times If I am getting nervous, I look towards Jamuna as we have a great eye to eye communication,” added Sasmita who is also an LIC agent.
Duo has very high regards for Star Sports as Pro Kabaddi League has given them an identity.
“We have developed our image via PKL, everybody know us. Same happened for players so in all people stated developing craze regarding the game,” said Sasmita.
According to Jamuna after the inception of PKL prize money in national and state level games has also gone up and more people are taking updates about the game.
Me and my husband were a kabaddi players now my daughter also plays. I had little fear before I started as whistle umpire but my state organisation gave me many big matches to officiate so soon fear was overcome.
— Jamuna Venkatesh (from Karnataka)
I used to be high jump athlete and also played Kho-Kho before I gave referee exam and became part of part of Pro Kabaddi League from Season 2. Jamuna is my role model, she has helped me a lot to improve every aspect of my game.
— Sasmita Das, (from Odisha)
HOW REFEREE PREPARES BEFORE THE MATCH
- Referee’s day starts with a physical exercise, whistle-blowing practice and then special drills on how to maintain correct body posture while giving decisions.
- Even during rest hours, referee’s do mirror practice and also practice various drills with their room partners.
- The duties of a particular day are assigned to a referee before an hour of the match. So referee has to be prepared for whatever duties allotted.
- One can get line umpire on a day while he or she might get scoring duties on another day.
- Thirteen officials are required to conduct one kabaddi match—2 line umpires, 2 referees, 2 in dug-outs, 2 for substitutes and 5 remaining look after scoring and team reviews.