PKL 2022: Men's and women's games almost similar, claim female referees
Pune: There are very few men's sporting tournaments, which have women as a part of their referee panels and vivo Pro Kabaddi League has been one of them for several seasons.
A mixed team of men and women have been leading the referee panel's charge at the vivo Pro Kabaddi League Season 9 as well, currently being played at the Shree Shivchhatrapati Sports Complex, Balewadi, Pune.
Aarti Ajay Bari, who has been officiating at vivo PKL since Season 2, spoke about a referee's regular match day, "From line umpiring to table official, everyone does every referee role in our team. A referee gets one specific posting for every match. The postings include line umpire, assistant scorer, ground coordinator and substitution duty among others. "
Bari added, "One has to cross various levels to become a referee. First you have to give an exam for district level officiating and then you have to work as a referee in district-level tournaments for two-four years. And then you have to qualify for the state-level exam and then you have to get recommended for the All India exam, which is conducted by Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI). A person is recommended for Nationals and vivo PKL after he or she passes the All India Exam."
The referee also said that there's not much difference between men's and women's matches for her, "We are used to officiating in male tournaments. There's not much difference between male and female for us. Men's matches are a bit longer as they are 40-minute games and women's matches are 30-minute games. One has to be certainly more alert in men's matches as they move at a fast pace. And there are more fights in men's matches as well."
Poppy Dalal, who has been refereeing at vivo Pro Kabaddi League since Season 3, expressed about a referee selection camp conducted by the vivo Pro Kabaddi League, "We were called for a selection camp in Jaipur ahead of Season 3. Every state from the East zone nominated four persons (men & women) for the camp conducted by Mashal Sports. The nominated people had passed the All India exam. I got selected for the vivo PKL from that referee selection camp."
Sasmita Das, who has been refereeing at the vivo PKL since Season 2, spoke about how she learned the ropes of kabaddi, "I am actually not from a kabaddi background. I used to be a high-jumper by profession. I used to work at a club in Bhubaneswar and when teams used to go for tournaments from the club, I used to accompany them as a manager. When I saw women referees at those tournaments, I also got influenced and inspired to become one. Then I learned the rules of kabaddi and became a referee."
The referee has also gone on to become friends with players, "It has felt really good to be a referee in the vivo Pro Kabaddi League. The players have always behaved very well with us. They have never been rude with us, on or off the mat. The players, who have retired, are still friends with us. It's not like they forget about us once they stop playing. It hardly matters to me if I am officiating in a men's or women's tournament."
Matches on Wednesday:
The Patna Pirates and Tamil Thalaivas will be hoping to bounce back into form after facing losses in their previous games. While the Pirates will bank on raider Sachin, the Thalaivas will be hoping for raider Narender to take them over the line.
The Telugu Titans are desperate for a victory, but they will go up against Bengaluru Bulls, who have been in tremendous form this season. Raiders Bharat and Neeraj Narwal will pose a strong challenge for the Titans.