Hyderabad: Hockey continues to be played on dusty grounds in India with little attention paid to the boys' kits. Among the hockey players, eleven-year-old Sai works on his dribbling at the Gymkhana ground in Hyderabad. He is among the 70 boys for who hockey is religion and former India captain Mukesh Kumar is guru. "Mukesh Sir teaches us to hit, dribble, tap, push, lift and scoop the ball," said Sai. Many young boys like Sai who have picked up the game have stars in their eyes as they look forward to the Premier Hockey League that will bring India and Pakistan hockey legends to Hyderabad this month. Struggling for the sport But little will change for these boys. They play in dusty environs where it is difficult to learn much and often struggle when they have to play matches on astroturf. "We need a turf ground as well as another gravel ground. Learners can practice on gravel and the seniors on turf," said Pradeep, a player. Coach Mukesh Kumar admits Indian hockey loses out because it is not able to tap talent. "Only the exceptionally talented are able to make the jump. At least 50 per cent are not able to graduate from this level to the under-14 teams," said Mukesh Kumar, Olympian. Compare this with a cricket coaching camp and the disparity is stark. It is only made up by the exuberance and mental toughness of the would-be India players.
Topics : Hockey