Rourkela: It has been billed as one of the biggest reasons for India not having won any Olympic gold in hockey since 1980. The fact that the world has switched to astro-turf while we have only about two dozen of the synthetic surfaces all over the country. Not surprising since each one costs more than a crore and a half but atleast the latest one has got to the right place, a hockey hostel in Orissa that has given India 28 international players. Panposh sports hostel in Rourkela will get the perfect Independence Day gift in the form of spanking new astro-turf laid at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore. It would be formally inaugurated on August 15, a long overdue move given that this hostel is a hot bed of tribal talent and features many players who have already represented the country at the junior and senior level. "Earlier we had to travel long distance for practice. But after we got this astro-turf at the hostel backyard things have become much easier," said Jyotsna Kujjur, a trainee, Centre for Excellence, Panposh sports hostel. "Now, the movement across the field, passing, striking, everything has become so easy. The old turf was a serious problem as injury due to slipping was common then and one felt scared doing practice," said Amar Dipakka, a trainee the hostel. The state government run Panposh Sports Hostel, which was established in 1985 to groom budding hockey talents in Sundargarh district, has so far produced 28 international hockey players. Brand new facility The players include the present national women's team skipper Jyoti-Sunita Kulu and Olympians like Lazarus Barla, Ignace Tirkey, Prabodh Tirkey, and William Xalxo. It is expected that this brand new facility will only help in adding to that list. "The old astro-turf had become thin and did not help the development of leg power and movement. Now the players can develop better leg power and be active through the 70 minute of the game. Practice on grass fields and practice on astro-turf have a whole lot of difference," said S Bihari, Hockey coach. "Four years ago when we came the turf was already in a bad shape. Now that we have a brand new one, we hope we will be able to emulate the great examples set by our seniors and reach the international and Olympic arena," said Sameer Bakhla, another trainee at the hostel. Perhaps the Sansarpur hockey academy could take a cue as well and get itself an astro-truf. That would give the famous hockey nursery of Punjab a chance to compete with Panposh hostel on equal terms.