SGPC launches three hockey academies to revive lost glory of the sport | punjab | Hindustan Times
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SGPC launches three hockey academies to revive lost glory of the sport

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Thursday announced the launch of three hockey academies in a bid to revive the interest of the youth in the country's national game and thus restore the past glory of Indian hockey.

punjab Updated: May 30, 2013 21:30 IST
HT Correspondent

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) on Thursday announced the launch of three hockey academies in a bid to revive the interest of the youth in the country's national game and thus restore the past glory of Indian hockey.

After 'ardaas' (prayer) at the Guru Ram Dass Khalsa Senior Secondary School here, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar announced the launch of these academies which would be opened in Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala. These would be run from SGPC schools in the three cities.

At the launch, Makkar honoured hockey great Brig Harcharan Singh (retd) and former Olympian Surinder Singh Sodhi. The two alongwith Ajitpal Singh, captain of the 1975 World Cup winning team, MLA and former Indian captain Pargat Singh and present day international Rajpal Singh, form the coaching team under whose expert guidance the youngsters would hone their hockey skills.

After kabaddi, hockey is the second sport that the SGPC has decided to focus on. The SGPC now has its own kabaddi team. In the last one year, it has won a number of tournaments, both within the country and abroad.

"Besides religious preaching, the SGPC is also focusing on sports. Sporting activities are very important to keep our youngsters occupied in their spare time so that they do not get hooked on to drugs and acquire other bad habits," Makkar said at the launch.

In Amritsar, the boys selected for the hockey academy, all in under-15 age group, would be trained for four days in a week at Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) astroturf ground and two days on natural surface.

Likewise in Patiala, the SGPC academy would utilise the Sports Authority of India (SAI) astroturf ground while in Faridkot, the SGPC has already got permission from the state government for utilising the astroturf ground at the stadium of the district administration.

In due course of time, the SGPC plans to have its own astroturf ground. On the suggestion of Brig Harcharan Singh, the SGPC chief agreed that a sports institute was the need of the hour.

Selection trials

Selection trials for the academies were held between February and April 2013 in Amritsar, Patiala, Jalandhar and Faridkot. Out of a total of 1,200 students under the age of 15, as many as 93 were finally selected. They would be sent to the three academies as per their preferences.

The SGPC would bear the expenditure of selected students, all boys, till Class 12. They would be admitted in SGPC schools, with entitlement to free education, books, stationary, board and lodging and hockey kits from the SGPC.

The Sikh boys selected for the academies would have to be 'sabat soorat' Sikhs (without shorn hair). They would be required to play only for their school team or the SGPC team in state and national level tournaments till the time they were in the SGPC schools.

SGPC move will impact hockey positively: Harcharan

Hailing the SGPC move, Brig Harcharan Singh (retd) observed that this step was bound to make a positive impact on Punjab and Indian hockey. When Indian hockey was at its peak, the major contributor was Punjab though over the years, the representation from the border state had declined. As a result, the standard of the sport at the national level also fell, he added.

He pointed out that all those selected for these academies were from the rural areas and came from middle or lower strata of society. Hockey skills were present in this particular strata, and the only thing required was to channel these skills through proper and expert guidance, Brig Harcharan added.

"The parents of these boys are happy to see their wards joining the academy. Besides free education, these boys stand a chance to make it to the national and international level sports. This will bring them good jobs, to the satisfaction of their parents," said Harcharan, whose extra-time goal in the semifinals against Malaysia in the 1975 World Cup saw India through to the finals, where they beat Pakistan to lift the cup for the first and only time.