The latest season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi has gone on to become one of the most popular sporting events of India. Players have time and time again pushed themselves on the mat leading to a number of records being shattered this season. However, along with the players, credit for the league’s recent exploits must also go to the officials who have been running the show from behind the scenes. Sasmita Das is one such official and is among the few women referees currently making a mark in the sport.
"I am fortunate to be part of a sport like kabaddi which is witnessing a revolution,” Das told the Times of India, “Being in a competitive league such as VIVO Pro Kabaddi gives me a huge high. Kabaddi is a sport where a referee has to be on her toes all the time as things happen quickly."
Das’ association with kabaddi started only in 2011, when she gave the referee exam as advised by kabaddi coach Nita Mohanty and actively started understanding the sport. As a former high jump athlete and kho-kho player, however, she was well acquainted with the sporting arena. "I made a name for myself as a state level high jumper, but I have also gone on to enjoy my time as a kabaddi referee," said Das.
But her first proper assignment didn’t come till 2014 when she refereed the National Junior Kabaddi Championship in Patna. From there she went on to be a part of the 2015 National Games before being picked up in the second season of VIVO Pro Kabaddi, where she has been working ever since.
Another feather in the Odisha born referee’s cap came in 2016 when she was among the four women chosen to be a part of the 13-member Indian squad officiating at the Kabaddi World Cup. "It was a proud moment for me to be officiating at the World Cup in India last year. The reception I received when I came back home was just wonderful. The entire world's focus was on India and our nation winning the tournament was the icing on the cake," concluded Das.
The success of female referees like Das bodes well for the future of women in the sport of kabaddi and will hopefully pave the way for more women to be a part of the sport in the coming years.