India’s Japanese state of Odisha has established itself as a world model ambassador for hockey. For the reason that 2014 Hockey Champions Trophy, the state authorities has pumped in billions to host worldwide occasions regularly, together with the upcoming Hockey World Cup in 2023.
Whereas Odisha has put in monumental efforts to advertise international hockey, the strengthening of grassroots has taken a backseat.
Since March, budding hockey gamers enrolled at completely different hockey academies within the state have had no alternative to follow as the federal government has closed down coaching facilities as a result of pandemic.
“There are roughly 300 budding hockey gamers in numerous academies within the state. The federal government ought to have made some provision in order that they might follow throughout pandemic. For the reason that majority of the gamers come from humble backgrounds, likelihood is they may be doing odd jobs to outlive and never doing any health work from home,” a hockey coach stated.
Regardless of allocating a funds of Rs 100 crore in 2018 to sponsor the nationwide males’s and ladies’s hockey groups for 5 years, the Odisha sports activities division has ignored shabby coaching situations on the native degree.
Photos taken final weekend of the turfs in Sundargarh and Rourkela, the 2 main hockey coaching facilities within the state, point out that Odisha’s sports activities assume tank has ignored grassroots improvement.
Barring a hockey academy in Bhubaneswar, coaching services at different hockey facilities in Odisha are in a state of neglect.
“Budding gamers at hockey academies in Sundargarh and Rourkela prepare in shabby situations. The turf has worn out. It’s harmful to play hockey on slippery worn-out surfaces. The federal government is but to interchange it with a brand new artificial floor,” a hockey coach from Sundargarh stated.
Final week, Amit Rohidas and Birendra Lakra, members of India’s bronze-medal profitable males’s staff on the Tokyo Olympic Video games, have been felicitated by the state authorities. The duo obtained a money incentive of Rs 2.5 crore every and authorities jobs.
Even Deep Grace Ekka and Namita Toppo, members of India’s girls’s staff that completed fourth, got money incentives of Rs 50 lakh every.
Whereas it is heartening to see elite hockey gamers get their dues, there was negligible funding on the grassroots degree within the final two to a few years, stated a hockey coach from Odisha.
“We haven’t seen any progress on the floor degree prior to now two or three years. If the federal government continues to disregard the event group, it seems to be uncertain that Odisha would make representations in hockey on the Paris 2024 Olympic Video games,” explains the coach.
The hockey academy in Rourkela has 150 gamers, together with 75 ladies, within the age group of under-12 to under-18.
“There isn’t a correct turf to play on. The slippery, soiled turf could cause severe accidents to gamers,” a hockey official stated.
In Sundargarh, there are two hockey academies. Whereas one is run by the Sports activities Authority of India (SAI), the opposite is managed by the state authorities.
Gamers from each coaching facilities share a standard turf. The hockey pitch on the SAI coaching heart was changed in 2007 however is in shabby situation nowadays, a participant from Sundargarh stated.
A SAI official stated the proposal to alter the turf in Sundargarh was despatched to SAI headquarters in New Delhi three years in the past, however there hasn’t been any response but.
“A proposal to interchange the hockey turf in Sundargarh was despatched to SAI headquarters in 2019. We haven’t acquired any communication about when the previous turf can be changed with a brand new one,” the SAI official stated on situation of anonymity, as he isn’t allowed to talk to the media.
Sandip Pradhan, director normal of SAI, wasn’t accessible for remark.
A few years in the past, Hockey India (HI) banned competitions at New Delhi’s iconic Shivaji Stadium because the turf was soiled and slippery.
“Odisha’s hockey specialists concerned in shaping the careers of younger gamers are unaware of the truth that enjoying on worn-out surfaces isn’t good for the well being of the budding gamers,” stated one other coach from Odisha.
Sundargarh’s SAI hostel has 30 ladies within the age group under-14 and above, whereas the state authorities’s academy for boys has gamers within the age group under-12 and above.
“SAI academy in Sundargarh has one turf. When the SAI ladies’ staff finishes their coaching, the boys are allowed to follow,” a state authorities official stated.
The Rourkela hockey coaching heart has 150 gamers, together with 75 ladies. There are two turfs, neither in good situation.
“The turf is greater than 14 years previous. It needs to be changed. It isn’t good to play because the floor has been broken,” a coach stated.
Within the 2019 and 2020 editions of the nationwide junior hockey championships, Hockey Odisha males’s staff gained the title. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the younger gamers haven’t obtained any employment and are doing odd jobs for survival.
“Solely 4 gamers from the 2019-2020 group have gotten jobs. Two gamers acquired jobs within the Customs division and two acquired jobs within the Railway. Others are nonetheless attempting to find jobs,” stated a junior nationwide participant.
The state authorities additionally has a hockey academy in Bhubaneswar the place gamers underneath 18 and above are enrolled. Although there are at present 60 gamers, together with 30 ladies, all coaching facilities have been closed since March as a result of pandemic, a coach stated.
“The hockey coaching facilities unfold throughout the states have been closed since March as a result of Covid-19,” stated one of many gamers of the academy.
Dilip Tirkey, former Indian skipper and chairman of the Odisha Hockey Promotion Council, stated he’s conscious that the turf at Sundargarh Hockey Academy must be changed. Nevertheless, Dilip didn’t reveal when the mission can be accomplished.
“The turf is in dangerous situation in Sundargarh. It isn’t good to follow. I hope it will likely be modified quickly. Officers involved have been apprised of the state of affairs,” Dilip stated.
Dilip, who oversees grassroots improvement within the state, couldn’t get issues transferring in his personal yard. He had deliberate to arrange hockey services in his Saunamara village in Sundargarh district of Odisha. The floor was leveled some three years again however the technique of laying the turf remains to be pending, Dilip stated.
“The leveling of the sector was carried out however the technique of laying the turf is but to start out. I’m hopeful it is going to begin in coming months.”
The proposal to enhance the hockey ecosystem within the state by constructing 17 new hockey pitches within the Sundargarh area can also be pending. Dilip is hopeful the mission will begin shortly.
“I hope issues will begin transferring quickly,” he added.