Kerala has sent a 22-member rugby squad for the Khelo India Tribal and Indigenous Games to be held in Bhubaneswar, Odisha from June 9 to 12.
It is the first time teams from Kerala will be competing in the national event organised by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.
"Rugby is the only sport Kerala will represent at this edition of the Games and that is a matter of pride for us," said R Jayakrishnan, secretary of the Kerala Rugby Association.
The players were assembled from the districts of Wayanad, Kozhikode, Palakkad, Ernakulam and Idukki.
Between them, all 22 players -- 11 each in the men's and women's categories -- represent eight different tribes of Kerala namely Mudugar, Irular, Kurumbar, Kuruman, Kurichia, Karimpalan, Mala Arayan and Ulladan.
"There is a lot of potential in this group. This edition will be a great exposure for our players and if they stick together we can become a formidable unit next year," said Muhammed Shiban from Tirur in Malappuram, who coaches the women's team. Jamsheer A from Pattambi in Palakkad is the coach of the men's team.