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No proper hockey turf for Uttar Pradesh’s budding players

Many government-run hockey academies lack proper facilities, even though the game is played on artificial turf as trainees at an Uttar Pradesh hostel still practice on grass.

other sports Updated: Aug 02, 2017 19:22 IST
Navneet Singh
Young hockey players polishing their skills on grass instead of astroturf.
Young hockey players polishing their skills on grass instead of astroturf.(HT Photo)

India might be the world champions at junior level, but many of the government-run hockey academies still lack proper facilities.

Trainees at the Uttar Pradesh state government-run hostel in Lucknow usually practice on the grass turf even though the modern game is being played on artificial turf.

Housed at the KD Singh Babu Stadium, players in the age group of 14 to 20 get an opportunity to play on artificial surface only on weekends or during the state coaching camps.

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The players have to travel 20km a day to avail modern facilities at other venues. “Many a time, we have to spend money from our own pocket,” said one of the players on condition of anonymity.

The players, it is learnt, often pool in prize money won in competitions, and use it for local travelling. “Since we want to play, it doesn’t matter if we have to spend some money from our own pocket,” said another player.

There are over 60 trainees, including 20 girls, in the hostel. Since all national level competitions are held on artificial turf, training on grass surface is deterring the development of skills.

Former national coach MK Kaushik feels players should begin training on artificial surface right from an early age. “It helps in improving basic skills and lays a solid foundation,” he says.

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Although the hostel for hockey was set up in early 1980s and the trainees get sports kit and education, the authorities have not felt it important to lay an artificial surface.

RP Singh, Director Sports at UP government, however, feels it isn’t a big issue. “There are three artificial turfs in Lucknow. The players get the best of facilities at the hostel. Moreover, travelling from one venue to another doesn’t take much time.”

There was a proposal to build hostel facilities at the newly-constructed hockey complex --- Padamshree Mohammed Shahid Stadium. However, it has been over eight months and not a brick has been laid.

“The proposal has been cleared and the work will start soon,” Singh assures.

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Singh said adequate modern facilities are being planned for the grassroots level in the state. “We have plans to set up five-a-side turf at Agra. New turf will soon come up in Gorakhpur. The government has also constructed hockey turf in Jhansi and Etawah. There are plans to construct more across the state,” he said.

A proposal to shift hockey players to Jhansi and Etawah from Lucknow is also in the pipeline. Till then the budding players will continue to spend their own money to play on the turf.