Nagpur: Mukesh Kumar, a former Olympian who was a member of the Indian Hockey team for 16 years is now planning to sell off his house to pay Rs 25 lakh to the Andhra Pradesh government. This is to purchase a five acre piece of land to realise his long dream of setting up an academy which will offer free hockey coaching to the selected young players from Andhra. However, his has now run into hot weather. While the government has allotted him five acres of land, he was told to either lease it or purchase it outright. Unwilling to lease this tract, he now has to sell his house in order to raise the close to Rs 30 lakh he needs to buy the land and set up his academy. "ItaÂÂs a challenge and I have agreed. The next alternative is to sell off my house. ItaÂÂs not an emotional step. I can feel proud that I am serving the society," said Mukesh. ItaÂÂs a service that's lasted 16 long years. Mukesh wants to continue that off the field as well by giving something back to the game, even if it means pulling every possible string from different quarters. Seeking support "We are not getting what I am hoping for. We need Rs 25 lakh. Then Indian Airlines is giving my Provident fund of about Rs 3.7 lakh. I will have to seek support from parents and relatives. If they help me, then I can get the land registration done," said Mukesh. While former cricketers have seldom faced problems with capital and sponsorship while setting up their respective academies, hockey stars like Dhanraj Pillay and now Mukesh have not found it easy to set up and sustain their temples of learning. "ItaÂÂs a dream project for me. After me, Andhra Pradesh should continuously produce national players. With this aim, I am planning to train selected players in the age group of 10 to 14 years as per the 'catch them young' concept. "Rs 55-60 lakh will have to be spent in the first phase. We are looking for some corporate sponsorship to produce good national and international players from AP," said Mukesh. Olympic gold-medallists like Leslie Claudius and Tarlochan Bawa feel that there isn't enough talent coming up from the grassroots levels. And unless efforts like Mukesh Kumar's get the financial backing, Indian hockey will almost certainly continue on its downward spiral.
Topics : Hockey