PT teacher to PKL match referee - the story of Sandhiya

Before PKL, Vellore-based Sandhiya had been officiating in all-India, south zone and state tournaments.

Match official M.K. Sandhiya in action at a PKL match.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


On a regular day, M.K. Sandhiya checks in at the Springdays School in Vellore as a physical education teacher. Her routine changes drastically in the Pro Kabaddi League season, where she works as a match official. The 29-year-old is one of the nine women referees in the league.

In an interaction with Sportstar, she highlights her job profile and the dedication needed to fulfill the responsibilities.

“They selected a fresh batch last year. I was picked from the selection in Chennai, attended a workshop in Mumbai and was initiated into the league,” she said.

Before PKL, Sandhiya had been officiating in all-India, south zone and state tournaments.

How match officials prepare

There are seven match officials in a PKL match. The referee, two umpires, two line umpires and two assistant referees. “I’ll be told, that I am going to officiate, roughly 45 minutes before the start of the first match. I’ll be assigned two different roles for the two matches.

“Once I get to know, I go on the mat and prepare by practising signals and coordination with the other officials. We imagine match situations and react to them. For instance, we’ll imagine that a raider has entered the lobby without a touch, and I will signal to the line umpire who has to make proper eye contact with me.”

There are two sets of match officials — Group A and B. Each group has 14 members.

“I belong to Group A. Each group is assigned six venues. This (Chennai) is our group’s third venue after Hyderabad and Patna. We’ll next go to Bengaluru, Pune and Panchkula.”

Fitness must

The officials have to maintain fitness throughout the season. “Morning gym workout is mandatory for us.”

Before the start of the league, there is an eight-day camp for the match officials. “Besides fitness training, there is this workshop for practising signals, pronunciation, voice modulation and clarity. We practise pronouncing team names and how to talk while in the match.

“For instance, saying things like 'raider safe, one point to Gujarat Fortunegiants; or, defender out of bounds.’

“We also take tests in which we’ll have to write how we’ll handle the given match situations.”

Kabaddi is a rapid contact sport. Errors in judgment can cost a team dear. “The primary aim is to not make any mistake.”

Post match talk

Sandhiya revealed that the match officials (all 14) attend an hour-long review meeting headed by the league’s technical director, Prasad Rao, every morning after the match day.

Asked to name a skilled player in the ongoing season from a match official’s perspective, she uttered, “Naveen (Kumar) of Dabang Delhi. He’s real quick and shrewd!”

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