The sport of kabaddi has seen an incredible rise in popularity in the past few years owing to VIVO Pro Kabaddi. The players and coaches have raised the level of the game so that the league can truly be counted as an international level event today. However, even though the players walk away with the glory of victory or the burden of defeat, there are those who work unseen to keep the games running smoothly and make sure the spirit of kabaddi prevails in every game. After our previous feature in which we looked at the women behind the scenes, we look now at the male match officials. Read about a few of these behind-the­-scenes heroes here.

  1. Mohammad Azam Khan

The current popularity of kabaddi and the place it enjoys among world sports today never ceases to amaze former national level kabaddi player and current VIVO Pro Kabaddi referee Mohammad Azam Khan.

“I think it’s a very interesting game. In our day we played kabaddi regularly, we never looked at any other sport. I think in other sports there is a lot of wasted time but in kabaddi we get the result in 40 minutes. If a raider gets out in a raid then he gets a chance again later in the game,” Khan explains.

He stresses on the importance of daily practice and discussions even for referees in an exclusive interview with during Season 5. Read it here:

  1. Kripa Shankar Sharma

Kripa Shankar Sharma’s undying love for the sport of kabaddi comes from the passion his own father had for the sport. He feels having played the game in the past makes it much easier for him make the right decisions when the pressure in high on the mat.

“VIVO Pro Kabaddi is a very big platform. There is a huge difference between where kabaddi was before and where it is now, and all that was possible just because of the league. We did not have any recognition before but because of this league, now, everyone knows us across the globe. So it really feels good,” said Sharma during Season 5.

Read more about Sharma’s journey as a referee and his inspiration from the world of kabaddi here.

  1. Ajit Kumar Bidhuri

Ajit Kumar Bidhuri’s career as a kabaddi player was brought to an abrupt and unfortunate end due to an injury, but that didn’t stop him from being associated with the sport he loved. After a brief stint as a physical education teacher, Bidhuri got back to the game as an official and has never looked back from there.

“I became a full-time referee only once VIVO Pro Kabaddi started, before that I used to be a referee at the odd national or local level tournament. After officiating at VIVO Pro Kabaddi people know who I am and call me to officiate or be guest of honour at other tournaments. It feels good to have made a name for myself in the sport that I love,” said Bidhuri while speaking exclusively to

To know more about the art of refereeing and where the future of kabaddi might lie, read Bidhuri’s entire interview here.