Strange but true – National Hockey Championship on Muddy Ground! -

Strange but true – National Hockey Championship on Muddy Ground!

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Rakesh Thapliyal

New Delhi: Famous tennis star of yesteryears, Ivan Lendl, who never won the Wimbledon championship that is traditionally played on grass, once said: “Grass is for cows”.

Indian hockey was on top of the world when hockey was played on grass. In 1976, the Montreal Olympic hockey event, first organized on artificial turf, saw seven-time gold medallists India finished seventh, which then was their worst performance at the Olympics.

Thereafter, the game briskly drifted toward artificial turfs, which became the surface of choice for most national and international hockey competitions.

It took several decades for Indian hockey players to adjust their skills and fitness with artificial turfs. Gradually, but surely, the Indian events also moved to artificial turfs that were laid out at major venues across the country.

Switch to 2021, when the 11th Hockey India Sub-Junior Men’s National Championship got underway today at Rajiv Gandhi Mahavidyalaya, Uchana (District Jind, Haryana) on a muddy ground that does not even have a well-groomed natural grass, leave alone an artificial turf.

It may seem strange, but it’s true. A question comes to mind: What sort of platform we are providing to our young talent? The choice of venue seems strange, as the state of Haryana has several grounds with artificial turfs. Haryana even has a sports minister, Sandeep Singh, who is a former international hockey star of the country. To top it all, the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) President, Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra is an Indian who also heads the Indian Olympic Association.

On the muddy field, Delhi Hockey, Hockey Bihar, Manipur Hockey, Hockey Maharashtra, Hockey Odisha, and Hockey Jharkhand registered wins on Day 1 of the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Men’s National Championship 2021 in Jind on Wednesday.

In the first match of the day, Hockey Bihar overpowered Hockey Himachal to win 11-0 in their Pool G clash. Ravi (29’, 38’, 50’, 56’) bagged four goals while Danish (26’, 30’, 55’) scored three goals. Praful Dhodray (33’), Pankaj Jasrotia (36’), Ravikant Kumar (12’) and Bhavuk (4’) scored a goal each.

In another Pool G clash, Delhi Hockey edged out Hockey Arunachal 3-1. Delhi Hockey’s Rohit (20’, 34’) put his side in the lead but Hockey Arunachal fought back to equalise through Rahul (24’). Captain Anil’s (40’) goal ensured that Delhi Hockey got off to a winning start in the 11th Hockey India Sub Junior Men National Championship 2021.

In Pool H, Manipur Hockey beat Hockey Gujarat by a resounding 17-0 margin. Sushanta Singh Moirangthem (22’, 25’, 42’, 43’, 49’, 60’) netted six goals to steer his side to a big win. Rohit Singh Ningthoujam (1’, 6’, 7’, 11’) & Captain Dipu Laishram Singh (3′, 37′, 39′, 57′) scored four goals each whereas Suresh Sharma Adhikarimayum (9’) and Borish Singh Kshetrimayum (44’) & Yumnam Rishi (23′) chipped in with one goal each.

Also in Pool H, Hockey Maharashtra marched to a 15-0 victory over Le Puducherry Hockey. Arjun Santosh Hargude (6’, 26’, 28’, 30’, 59’) was the star of the show with five goals. Aakshay Jadhav (27’, 38’, 44’, 50’) scored four goals. Jay Kale (6’, 31’) scored two goals while Nilesh Shah Vansh (20’), Deepank Chavan (17’), Balwant Singh Gadiwale (56’) and Captain Raju Durga Tushar (46’) picked up a goal each.

In Pool A, Hockey Odisha defeated Hockey Uttarakhand 5-0 courtesy of goals from Pratap Toppo (18’, 21’), Satish Munda (4’), Ankit Majhi (43’) and Abhisek Topno (45’).

In Pool C, Hockey Jharkhand eased to a 14-0 win against Kerala Hockey. Adisan Minj (11’, 22’, 27’) and Captain Sukhnath Guria (8’, 38’, 39’) registered hat-tricks for their side. Sumit Barwa (30’, 40’), Binit Toppo (56’, 60’), Abhishek Tigga (3’, 35’) scored two goals each. Amit Baa (48’) and Deepak Soreng (17’) scored a goal each.

The pool B match between Uttar Pradesh Hockey and Hockey Madhya Pradesh was forfeited.

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