The fear of being overrun is always there, given the mushrooming of cricket and football academies in the Capital. But a few enthusiasts from Odisha are keeping the game of hockey alive.
Bonny Minz migrated to Delhi from the tribal region of Sundargarh a decade ago in search of livelihood. He was into part-time jobs to support the family before finding regular employment.
The hardships though didn’t diminish Minz’s desire to spend the weekends playing hockey.
He wields the hockey stick in a DDA park in Mayur Vihar every Sunday, as the Mayur Club, made up of migrants like him, practice in worn-out jerseys with an equally old ball.
Born in early 2000, the club now has over 30 members, and irrespective of the weather, members make it a point to spend Sunday on the playfield.
Minz, 30, who joined the club in 2012, says he wants his four-year-old son to take up hockey. “Due to family problems I had to quit hockey in school. Things are better now. I have enough to support my child,” he says.
Hockey was to be a vehicle for Minz and friends to land a good job. Opportunities through the sports quota are few and their background makes it tougher. Minz may have failed to make it, but he has hope for his son.
“We want to inspire the next generation to take up the game. For some reason, we weren’t able to play top-class hockey. If we pursue the game with passion, it will inspire our youngsters. If two out of ten make it, we would have achieved our goal.”
Though the club runs on meagre resources, the spirit stays strong. A quality hockey stick costs Rs 1000 and equipment for a goalkeeper ranges from Rs 50,000 to Rs 3 lakh.
Pascal Tirkey, one of the founder members, says after every practice session each member contributes R20. “If the need arises, members contribute more,” he adds.
Besides weekend practice, members participate in local tournaments. Minz says they maintain physical fitness despite being busy.
On weekends, the park is full with cricketers and footballers, so there is a tussle for space. “We start early to ensure the cricketers and footballers don’t occupy the space. Sometimes, the practice area is confined to a 40-50 square yard area, but we see it as a challenge.”
Their efforts are not lost on neighbours. One of them, Zubair Durrani, designed and sponsored their kit for an inter-tribal tournament in Shivaji Stadium last week.
The tournament had about 30 teams with prize money of Rs 50000. “It is all about passion and we want to keep it alive,” says Tirkey.