Little do Indians know of Japp Stockmann, but he is known as one of the best goalkeepers in the world by many; but that’s not only it, for with his contribution to the development of underprivileged Indian children, the Dutch goalkeeper has proved to be a guardian angel, a hero, a savior of dreams.
The 'Chak de India' project is his brainchild, the charitable initiative that has provided over 7,000 pieces of hockey equipment to deprived Indian children, giving aspiring hockey players the chance to train and play the sport.
While playing In the Indian Hockey League and traveling around the country, Stockmann witnessed the depravity and difficulty children in various parts of India face in their quest to learn the sport. This first-hand account led to the creation of 'Chak de India' project.
In the recently concluded Hero Hockey World League(HWL) final in Raipur Stockmann told Economic Times, "When I first played in Hockey India League three years back I saw huge enthusiasm for the sport which was fantastic. I saw the kids really love playing the game but there was a lack of equipment. I saw children from villages use homemade stuff and play on a gravel field".
The Dutchman also added, "Back home in Holland, a lot of people are playing hockey but a lot of people throw away their equipment after some time and buy new ones. That is when I thought to collect equipment in Holland and send it to India and these can be used by the underprivileged kids".
Love India and its culture: Stockmann
While he was playing for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors, he shared his desire with the former Indian national team coach Jagbir Singh who was in the support staff of the Punjab team. Singh then got him contacted with veteran hockey writer and IIT alumni, K. Arumugam, who runs an NGO named 'One Thousand Hockey Legs'.
Within six months of forming the idea of the project, They collected 7,000 second-hand hockey equipment which included sticks, balls, goalie equipment and shoes of top brands.
Stockmann said, "It was a huge success. In two months we collected a full container of goalkeeping kits, shirts, hockey sticks and everything. Six months ago, it reached India and now the school kids are using it".
However, everything was not that smooth for the Dutchman and his team as they faced a lot of logistical problems in shipping the container to India.
The Dutch goalkeeper said, "The container stayed in Holland for almost two years. I was very busy in getting everything fixed with the customs and after two years, it was fixed and the container was sent to India.The problem we faced is that it took some time to ship the equipment to India because of customs. But in the end my sponsor Greenfields took care of all the transport issues with help from Hockey India and respective ministries".
For Stockmann, the project was a way to give back to the sport and also to India, the country where he enjoyed so much success.
The Dutchman said, "I love the country and its culture. I love the people here. Hockey in India gave me a lot of joy and it is my contribution to give something back to the game and the country which gave me so much".
Stockmann wants to continue the project and said "It started as a one-time project but in future I am going to do it again. Reactions were very positive so it was really nice.”
Those equipments are now being used by destitute children of more than 20 schools across India where 'One Thousand Hockey Legs' works.Published 12 Dec 2015, 12:20 IST