Defending the title : The 26th GS Randhawa Memorial Hockey Tournament 2015
The 26th GS Randhawa Men’s Hockey Tournament was hosted by the Karnataka State Hockey Association (KSHA) at the Karnataka Hockey Stadium. It brought to light that despite the lack of a hockey astro-turf, the Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) Hockey team can be a force to reckon with. Only in its second year in the competition, the ASA team has been showcasing an astounding presence in the style of hockey and the flair displayed by its players.
The tournament was played in a league-cum-knockout format, with as many as 28 teams participating in the two phase competition. The first phase of the tournament, with four pools of four teams each saw some tremendous competition, with only the pool toppers moving into phase two to play against the best of the best in the competition.
The ASA team began their tournament as defending champions on Thursday, 20th August 2015, with the boys facing the St. Joseph’s Briand Square team. The ASA boys immediately asserted their dominance in their title defence by trouncing their Briand Square opponents with an enormous 9 goal difference, and a clean sheet on the score card to savour their superb start to this year’s tournament.
In their next game, ASA played Karumbaiah Academy. They emerged triumphant against the team from South Coorg, beating them with a 5-0 scoreline and ensuring their run of clean sheets stayed intact.
Moving into their next game to play DYSS Sports Hostel, Kudigue, ASA made quick work of the DYSS team with another clean sheet beating their opposition with 6 goals. With this win, the ASA boys got a peek at the finals, with their semifinal encounter scheduled against St. Joseph’s Indian High School.
The semifinals seemed to be heading the same way as the league matches, until the St. Joseph’s Indian High School team stepped up their game with a view to go down fighting. The result was the same, with ASA emerging winners, but at the end of the semi-finals the boys from St. Joseph’s had broken the clean sheet record that the ASA were sporting for quite a while with pride, as the semis ended with a 6-2 scoreline, a commendable effort that the ASA coach appreciated.
The finals were very engaging, with the DYSS Sports Hostel putting up an incredible show to restrict ASA for most of the game. It was the closest game for ASA in the tournament, but the result ended the same way as all the previous matches, with the final score being 2-0 in favour of the ASA, who have their second tournament win in two years. This is an especially remarkable feat as the ASA began participating in this tournament since last year.
Describing the overall experience of the tournament, N Laxminarayana, the ASA boys coach said, “It was a good experience playing in Bangalore with very different weather conditions compared to what we are used to, and the boys got yet another feel of the hockey turf, which we are not used to playing on at our Academy. So, though it took us a little time to acclimatize to the surface and get a better idea, the team played well, and this win will add to the boys’ experience of playing on an astro-turf, as well as provide plenty of confidence moving forward”.