PIMPRI: After picking up the gauntlet of popularising hockey in remotest districts of the state, the Maharashtra Hockey Association (MHA) plans to make the sport popular amongst school and college going students. Soon they will be holding an under-16 , under-17, under-18 and under-19 inter-school and inter-collegiate hockey tournaments at the famous Polygrass Stadium here.
It is not that the schools and colleges have not been participating in hockey tournaments. It has to be said that the kind of amateur settings that exists was doing no good to hockey in a city that had produced players like Baburao Nimal, Vikram Pillay and Dhanraj Pillay. The children sometimes played three matches in a day at substandard stadiums that did not cater to the needs of players to hone their skills. They even had to bear the brunt of amateur referees dishing out flawed decisions at crucial junctures of the matches.
It has been the district administration that has been conducting hockey tournaments for school children every year. The standard of such tournaments is anybody’s guess as the administration conducts as many as 45 other sports events along with hockey. "MHA, hence, has been pursuing hard to ring in a semblance of professionalism into the sport at the grassroots level,” MHA Joint Secretary Ikram Khan told the Herald here on Tuesday.
MHA has already assigned the task to MB Makasare and AB Sheikh belonging to Ambedkar Hockey Association (AHA) for initiating a dialogue with various schools and colleges in the city. “With the immense experience of Makasare and Sheikh in the field of hockey, we are hopeful of succeeding in our endeavour to improve hockey among school and college students,” he said.
In fact, the process had already begun with 25 schools and 10 colleges agreeing to meet for a deliberation in the next couple of weeks. The school managements were so much impressed with the concept that they have suggested MHA to conduct camps for school children to raise the quality of the game at junior level. “We are seeking help from the district administration in this regard to provide necessary infrastructure and district sports officer Anil Chornule is impressed with our concern,” Sheikh said.