Season 5 of VIVO Pro Kabaddi has been the cynosure of all eyes as viewers from across the length and breadth of the country follow the league with keen interest. One of the consequences of such a devout following and fan base is that there is zero margin for error as far as match officials are concerned – now more so than ever before. With that in mind prokabaddi.com caught up with one of the men involved in ensuring decision-making is spot on. In an exclusive interview, referee Mohammad Azam Khan shared his thoughts on the challenges he faces as well as how he got to the position of officiating in the first place.
On how his journey in the sport began, Khan said: “I started playing kabaddi when I was in school. I really felt good when I started playing because it is a very interesting game as we all know. I also went on to play at the national level and then I never looked back but I never thought that we would reach this far [referring to the current popularity of the game].”
He added: “I think it’s a very interesting game. [In our day] we always played kabaddi, we never looked at any other sport. I think in other sports the time is wasted a lot 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.“
However, his tryst with officiating the sport isn’t one that happened overnight. “I refereed in national level tournaments. When I started referring I didn’t know that I would come this far but as I improved I got opportunities to become a referee. It was in the third season that I became a part of Pro Kabaddi,” Khan said.
On the challenges he faces on the job, he said: ”The only challenge is that every team has a lot of supporters so we have to be very careful while giving any decision. If we give any wrong decision that will be really bad from the team’s point of view as well as for the sport. We practise daily and discuss various situations, so that if we come across any tricky situation we can give the right decision without any pressure.”
Khan also believes that kabaddi has a very bright future and will become an Olympic sport sooner or later. “Of course, kabaddi has a very bright future. Pro Kabaddi only happens in India but we hope that one day Pro Kabaddi happens across the globe. We never thought that there would ever be VIVO Pro Kabaddi, did we? The sport is also included in the Asian Games. We also had a Kabaddi World Cup last year in India. So, I think that it will take time but kabaddi will be included in the Olympics,” he concluded.