Come July, 55-odd inmates, including girls, of two hockey hostels in the state capital will get a chance to do regular practice on astro turf for the first time in the history of the Uttar Pradesh Sports Directorate.
The state government has plans to shift the two hockey hostels to new locations, like Jhansi and Rae Bareli, which are equipped with astro turf. The 25 boys staying at the KD Singh ‘Babu’ Hockey Hostel would go to Jhansi while 30 girls would be shifted to Rae Bareli.
“We plan to shift the two hostels to the places which have astro turf facilities. I believe this will help our hostellers practice the game as per the demands of the modern hockey,” director, sports, RP Singh told HT.
“When I used to play, I dreamt of training on the astro turf. I will feel proud to see the young guns train on the turf --- that too on regular basis,” he added.
Former director, sports, Vijay Singh Chauhan also hailed the government’s move. “We didn’t have astro turfs on these locations in the past, otherwise we would have shifted the two hostels many years back,” said Chauhan. “With this move, the standard of hostel players would certainly improve,” he added.
Ever since the establishment of the UP Sports Directorate in 1974, the inmates of two hostels never got a chance to do regular training on astro turf as KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium has a grassy outfield. The hockey turf at Guru Gobind Singh Sports College is quite far.
In the past, the inmates used to travel to the sports college, probably once in a week, to practice on astro turf but for the last many years practice was stopped as there was no arrangement of a vehicle to ferry them.
Though the Rae Bareli turf came into existence three years ago, the government was waiting for astro turf at Jhansi as it had plans to shift the two hostels in one go.
Both the hostels at KD Singh ‘Babu’ Stadium have produced great stars for the country in the past but that was justified when the hockey was not played on turf. For the past many years, the score of such talent from hostels reduced to almost zero.
Shifting of the hostel to Jhansi would provide an additional advantage to the boys as the birthplace of hockey legend Major Dhyanchand has a number of former national and international players, working in railways and other organisations. “Our boys would often get a chance to play against former greats during training and it will help them sharpen their skills,” added Singh, a former Indian hockey captain.
“The players will get to practice on turf which is a must for the training in the modern days,” former Indian hockey captain Rajneesh Mishra told HT.
“During my three-year stay at the hostel, I had a grassy ground for training. It was my previous stint at the college which made all the difference when I got a chance to play for the country,” said Mishra.
“In modern era of hockey, slapping, trapping, rolling, penalty corner varieties, drag flicking etc. are not possible on grass. Regular training on astro turf would help the hostel inmates grow,” he added.
“I still believe that astro turf is a must within the city limits as the talent is ample in the state capital and if we have it somewhere in Gomti Nagar, it would be a big boost to the game,” he said.