Having played only on the traditional green-tinged synthetic turf, the Indian hockey team will be "going blue" in the next two months as it gears up for the London Olympic Games. Hockey in London will be played on Polygras Olympic blue turf with yellow balls, as the blue background makes the ball more visible both for the spectators in the stands and those watching the game on television.
The Indians struggled to get acclimatised to the Riverbank turf during last week's test event in London and, therefore, the management has decided to play more games on the blue turf. The team will be touring Malaysia, Spain and France in the next two months to play on blue surfaces in order to get used to it before the mega event. India would play the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, six Tests in Spain and two matches in France on the blue surface.
The reason for touring Spain and France is simple --- India has only one blue turf, at Ludhiana, and that too is currently unavailable. "Also, Ludhiana will be too hot in May and June, so training there would not help," said Indian drag-flicker Sandeep Singh on Thursday. Most of the top hockey-playing nations, including Germany, Australia, Holland and New Zealand have installed blue turfs well in time in order to prepare for London. "We will play at least 20 matches on that surface in the next two months and that should be enough for us to get used to it," Sandeep said on the sidelines of a promotional event here where he, along with star midfielder Sardar Singh, forwards Shivendra Singh and SV Sunil, were announced brand ambassadors of Tilaknagar Industries.
When asked about the problems they faced while playing on the blue turf, Sandeep said that spotting the ball was a bit difficult initially. "As we were used to the green tinge, eye-contact with the ball was a bit difficult initially. The blue turf reflects more light as compared to the green one. The other teams in the test event, did not face the same problem because they have been practicing on the surface for the last few months."