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Harshraj Singh, Hindustan Times
Ludhiana, September 25, 2013
Players at Malwa Hockey Academy, which happens to be the nursery of India hockey player Akashdeep Singh, have been deprived of a shot at international glory.  
Each trainee of the illustrious academy, which is run at Malwa Khalsa Senior Secondary School at Model Gram here, is entitled to receive a kit comprising a pair of shoes, shin guards, a hockey stick and mouth guard every year, but have not received the benefit since 2011, claims Jagbir Singh Grewal, treasurer of Ludhiana District Hockey Association.

The government-funded academy has 31 trainees on its rolls. The budding hockey players live in classrooms of the government-aided school that have been converted into makeshift dormitories.

Even their gruelling practice sessions are fraught with a risk of them suffering injuries.  "We go to practice at Prithipal Singh Hockey Stadium at Punjab Agricultural University, but often get injured as the astroturf there is not watered properly due to damaged sprinklers," said a player of the academy who did not wish to be named. HT Ludhiana had on September 24 highlighted how water sprinklers at the stadium had been dysfunctional and buckets full of water were being used to water the turf. 

Grewal said he had taken up the matter with the director of Punjab sports department. "The government should do something. Even the hockey sticks that were given to the players recently are not of good quality," he said.

Malwa Hockey Academy has two teams - one in the under-14 category, the other in the under-17 category.

Contacted, Pawan Kumar Tinu, chief parliamentary secretary (sports and youth services), said that he did not know that the players had not received new kits. "I will look into the matter and take the steps required."

District sports officer Kartar Singh said did not why the kits weren't given. "I hope they get them this year."

Malwa Khalsa Senior Secondary School principal Karanjit Singh demanded an Astroturf for the school. "At present, there is no Astroturf here. The players will benefit a lot if there is a smaller, six-a-side Astroturf pitch here."