*Junior Men Hockey Tournament in J&K
To give a big boost to Hockey in the Union Territory, Jammu & Kashmir Sports Council has installed three new Astro Turfs in the valley and three more are under construction and will be made operational in a couple of months.
Hockey is no longer confined to the urban centers but is becoming popular in the whole of the Union Territory, asserted Hockey Jammu and Kashmir general secretary Supinder Deep Singh Bakshi.
“First of all, we are focusing on the development of hockey infrastructure. Nowadays, it is played on Astroturf instead of natural turf (grass) and given the fact that there was only one Astroturf in Jammu and Kashmir, hockey in the UT suffered a great deal. However, last year the Sports Council decided to set up more AstroTurf's in different districts. ”
“Recently, three new AstroTurf's were laid down – one in Pulwama and two in Srinagar and youngsters have already started practising on them. Moreover, 2-3 AstroTurf's are under construction and will be made operational in a couple of months,” he informed
In the recent past, Hockey J&K has successfully conducted numerous tournaments across age categories in different districts despite facing challenges like extreme weather conditions and high-security situations in the UT.
Senior and Junior Tournaments (men) were held in Jammu in March and April respectively "Notably, these local tournaments align with Hockey India’s visionary program - 'Hockey India ka Abhiyan Har Ghar Ho Hockey Ki Pehchan' which was unveiled recently to promote the sport in regions where the sport is not so popular. The initiative also focuses on scouting and nurturing young talents.
“It’s a great initiative by Hockey India and to serve the purpose of the same, we have decided to provide hockey coaches to schools and other institutions that are located in remote areas of J&K to impart training and skills to students and revive the sport at such places.” Bakshi said
Further talking about developing hockey at the grass root level every level , Bakshi said, “We recently conducted some good tournaments across age groups . They witnessed the participation of around 150-200 players. Moreover, training camps are being held regularly in Jammu, while in Kashmir, tournaments and training camps will commence shortly with summer fast approaching in the region.”
“We also organise hockey events in other districts like Kathua, Poonch, etc. We have so far witnessed participation of 600-700 players across tournaments and training camps which took place in various districts . We are also actively looking for sponsors who can help us cover the remaining districts where hockey is yet to take off.”
Meanwhile, Bakshi revealed that Hockey J&K will organise a Senior Tournament (Men) at KK Hakku Hockey Stadium in Jammu in the first week of May and it will be sponsored by J&K Sports Council.
Moreover, hockey equipment including sticks, balls, and other essential items which were recently provided by Hockey India to its State Member Units, will be distributed among players on the inaugural or final day of the tournament, which will see the participation of eight teams.
Bakshi highlighted how the sport is helping those youngsters who come from troubled regions and are vulnerable to violence. “Hockey is playing an instrumental role in putting the youngsters of J&K on the right track. Anyone who plays hockey has his/her mind fully dedicated towards the sport and does not get distracted by irrelevant things. To date, we haven’t heard of any hockey player from the UT involved in any kind of unlawful activity,” .
“Also, to make sure that hockey gains popularity in the maximum regions of J&K and to encourage young kids to take up the sport, we post advertisements in newspapers, social media, and put-up hoardings at various locations days before conducting any local tournament.
" We have observed that more and more youngsters are now enrolling themselves in hockey training camps and parents are also pushing their children to take up the sport. We also meet senior officials from the J&K Government again and again to discuss the possibility of creating departmental hockey teams of various organisations which will generate employment opportunities for players,” he added.