Hockey spawned a bond of friendship between two veterans of Lucknow, Ram Awtar Mishra and Mazhar-ul-Haq, four decades ago and they have been living with it all these years.
Be it a local match or a glamorous event such as the Hockey India League, Mishra (75) and Haq (68) have never missed a single match in the state capital. For the duo, the game works as a magic potion that keeps them young at heart even at this age.
"It's hockey, which keeps us going even today. We have made it a habit to watch the matches together," said Mishra, the former chief hockey coach at the Guru Govind Singh Sports College while enjoying the penultimate home match between UP Wizards and Mumbai Magicians on Saturday.
"It (big matches) helps us understand the game better and pass on the techniques to my trainees at the LDA coaching centre," said Haq, the chief coach at the centre.
The joy of UP Wizards' 2-0 triumph on Saturday was evident on their faces as they sat enjoying the keen contest at the Dhyanchand Stadium on Saturday. "It was disheartening to see the local side not doing well in the last four matches, but the way they played today has warmed our hearts," said Mishra.
"The goal by local boy Siddharth Shankar will be big inspiration for the youngsters," added Mishra. It was the agile Jeroen Hertzberger who set the goal for Siddarth. After neatly tackling the ball inside the circle, he quickly pushed it in Siddarth's direction, who made no mistake in slotting the ball home in the 58th minute.
But, before that, it was Pardeep Mor, who set the ball rolling for the Wizards with a stunning goal in the ninth minute.