Refereeing any game is no mean task and the frantic pace of VIVO Pro Kabaddi adds to the challenge of officiating the sport. To get a better understanding of a referee’s perspective, recently sat down with Jamuna Venketesh to get her story on what it’s like to be behind the white lines, making the decisions in the game with keen eyes for the mid, baulk and bonus lines.

In the case of Venketesh, kabaddi runs in her blood with a family full of kabaddi enthusiasts. “I was a kabaddi player before becoming a referee. My husband and my daughter are also kabaddi players. So, after I finished playing an interest in referring matches began for me. My husband really supported me in this, he was a police officer. I also got a job in the police department but instead I chose to stay associated with kabaddi,” she said.

Venketesh is proud of her association with the league having been a part of it since its inaugural season. “I have been here from the first season and I feel that I have never let anyone down with my decisions. I think I can give my best now also as always. I will always try to give my 100 percent in every match which I officiate,” she said.

On just how exactly she copes with the pressure of delivering accurate decisions, Venketesh added: “There is no particular pressure as such, whichever match I get I will officiate but the decision should always be accurate. We have to be very focussed because if we give any wrong decisions, then the teams can lose or win when they shouldn’t. Every point matters in the game. If I see or feel that there is a point then I will definitely give it, if I do not see the point then I will not give it. The referees have to take their time before making any decisions.”

She also envisions a bright future for the game. “They have a lot of scope because when we were playing we didn’t even have a proper jersey for us but now they have a lot of facilities. I think kabaddi will go on to the next level now. I will also encourage my son to be a part of kabaddi,” Venketesh said.

In fact, not just young boys even aspiring girls will have a platform to showcase their talent few years down the line, claimed Venketesh. “The girls will definitely get a platform in the future because now ladies are also performing really well. Earlier there was no support for women to play kabaddi but now everyone is thinking differently, so women’s kabaddi will also shine.”

She did, however, urge that families must support young girls as they look to follow their kabaddi dream. “I always had the support of my family and because of it I could relax. If all family members support women’s kabaddi, then only the value of women in kabaddi will increase. There is a slow growth in women’s kabaddi but in the future it will be on a par with men’s kabaddi,” Venketesh concluded.