TN referee Sandhiya hopes to officiate at continental or global level

Since her entry into the League four years ago, Sandhiya has been involved in more than 200 matches in spite of being one of the younger members of the technical team.
Tamil Nadu referee MK Sandhiya
Tamil Nadu referee MK Sandhiya

MUMBAI: Tamil Nadu referee MK Sandhiya has made giant strides since passing the AKFI (Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India) examination for technical officials in 2015.

She began officiating matches the following year and made the cut for the Pro Kabaddi League – the pinnacle of the sport in the country – ahead of the sixth edition in 2018. Since her entry into the League four years ago, Sandhiya has been involved in more than 200 matches in spite of being one of the younger members of the technical team.

Now that she has cemented her place among the crème de la crème of Indian officials – she was one of the 19 short-listed for the Pro Kabaddi Season 9 play-offs in Mumbai – the Vellore-based Sandhiya hopes to move up the ladder.

“My dream is to officiate at the continental or global level – the Asian Games or the World Cup. I would like to achieve it. We get elevated only on the basis of our performances, so I will have to keep giving my best,” Sandhiya told DT Next.

“In Pro Kabaddi, there is pressure at all times [on the mat], because a lot of fans watch us on television. We cannot afford to make mistakes. We have to be ready to handle any situation, so we prepare mentally and physically before matches,” she added.

When asked to give an insight into the programme for PKL technical officials, Sandhiya replied: “Before every season, we attend online classes for about six months. Closer to Pro Kabaddi Season 9, we had a 10-day camp in Kolhapur. When the League is going on, we have a fitness session every morning. We also have meetings to assess how things went the previous day. We do breathing exercises as well.”

Not an easy start

Sandhiya, a former National-level player who is a physical education teacher at the Springdays School in her hometown, did not have it easy at the start. After getting married in 2009, she was away from the sport for three years. It was her husband who persuaded her to make a comeback in 2015, when she represented the state in the Senior Nationals.

“At that time, my seniors asked me: ‘Why are you still playing? Why not get into officiating?’ I wrote the exam at the end of 2015 and I am here now. Without the support of the Tamil Nadu Amateur Kabaddi Association, Vellore Amateur Kabaddi Association and Mashal Sports (Pro Kabaddi organiser), I would not be here,” said Sandhiya.

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