A German woman and a Rajasthan village that loves hockey

Coach Andrea Thumshirn (centre back) along with the girls hockey team and German volunteers in Jaipur.

Garh Himmat Singh is a nondescript village in Dausa district of Rajasthan, situated around 200km from the capital city of Jaipur.

What sets it apart, however, is the love for hockey among its youth.

It is, therefore, not surprising that all players in the under-16 hockey teams of both boys and girls from Dausa - currently in Jaipur for the state-level Panchayat Yuva Krida and Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) games beginning Monday - are from Garh Himmat Singh.

And behind these young players, there is one German woman - their coach Andrea Thumshirn.

Thumshirn, who is called 'Bua -sa' (aunt) by her pupils, has been training around 50 kids from the village in hockey since 2011.

"We are the only hockey team in Dausa and will represent the district at the state level," said Thumshirn. "We are confident of winning the tournament. PYKKA is a great opportunity to showcase rural talent."

Thumshirn, in her early 30s, belongs to Berlin and has played in premier hockey leagues in Germany.

She first came to India in 2009, before finally settling down in Garh Himmat Singh in 2011 to train local children in hockey.

"When I first came to this village with a friend, these children had no idea about hockey. But with persuasion and community support, we have been able to create a team of boys and girls who will be playing at the PYKKA games in Jaipur. We are now looking at bigger grounds and Astroturf for further training," she said.

Thumshirn has been carving out talented young players with the help of volunteers from Germany and friends in India.

"Funds are always a problem, but we do have people supporting us," she said.

"Volunteers from Germany come to teach children hockey and the English language. We have also planned a school dedicated to hockey players from the next session. A donor from Germany has given us Astroturf and we are trying to find somebody who can help us bring that to India."


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