Create

Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U16: Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy girls take first baby step towards future

Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy and Salute Hockey Academy match during Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U16 at New Delhi’s Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium. Photo credit SAI
Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy and Salute Hockey Academy match during Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U16 at New Delhi’s Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium. Photo credit SAI

The Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy arent' the favorites in the ongoing Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U-16 competition being played at the Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.

Nonetheless, keeping track of the team gives a deep insight into the growing enthusiasm for the sport in Gujarat.

“We are making efforts to build up the sports culture in Gujarat,” Bharat Parmar, hockey coach of the girls' U16 team, candidly said after Thursday’s 1-1 draw against Delhi’s Salute Hockey Academy.

While several teams competing in the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U-16 tournament might have meager resources at their disposal, Gujarat's state-government-run Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy has all the facilities. Right from a synthetic hockey pitch to nutritious food.

“The players get all the facilities as they stay in the hostel,” Parmar told Sportskeeda after Thursday’s league match.
U-16 Khelo India Hockey tournament.Major Dhyan Chand Stadium is a thing of beauty in evening.#Hockey #indianhockey https://t.co/CHSTDestdZ

There are 36 girls in the age group of 13-15 in the Devgarh Baria Sports Hostel, which is roughly 40 kms from Godhra in Gujarat. Of the 36 players, the top 20 are playing here in New Delhi.

Parmar, a retired Army personnel, joined the academy in 2015.

“Since I had a diploma in hockey from Patiala’s National Institute of Sports, joining the hockey academy in Devgarh Baria was a good opportunity to contribute back to the game,” Parmar said.

However, the lack of sports culture back home is a serious impediment to the growth of hockey in Gujarat.

“We have just one odd competition like the pre-Nehru Hockey Tournament for girls in Gujarat. That is not enough to instill confidence in the budding players,” reveals the hockey coach. “That is the main reason we have come all the way to compete in the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League U16 tournament.”
Indian Hockey legend Zafar Iqbal declared the 1st Khelo India Women’s Hockey League (U-16) open at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in the national capital today.Phase 1 of the tournament, scheduled until August 23, started earlier in the morning. https://t.co/cUXs1n74p1

According to the hockey coach, the teenage girls, though they have no sports background, were enrolled in a hostel for hockey last year.

“I think it will take time for the girls to understand the nitty-gritty of hockey. The more competition they compete in, the better they will get,” Parmar observed.

Parmar said since local schools were closed for the summer vacation, there was a break in practice.

“We started new session at the end of June. Hence, the girls aren’t physically fit for competition,” the coach added.

Khelo India tournament start of long journey for Gujarat-based team

Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy players going through cool down routine after their match on Thursday in the Khelo India U-16 tournament
Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy players going through cool down routine after their match on Thursday in the Khelo India U-16 tournament

The Sports Authority of Gujarat Academy girls lost their opening match by a huge margin of 14-0. However, the players put on a better showing in their third league match, registering a 1-1 draw against Delhi’s Salute Hockey Academy on Thursday.

The overall performance in the three league matches indicates there is a long way to go for the teenage girls. Most players in the team don’t have good fundamentals.

In Thursday’s league match, the Gujarat-based team missed several penalty corners and open goal scoring opportunities. Indeed, it was a learning experience for both the coaching staff as well as the budding players.

They have four more league matches to play in the tournament. These will give them further opportunity to hone their skills and test themselves against the best in the country in their age-group.

“Initially the players were scared as the Khelo India Women’s Hockey League was their first national-level competition. I believe they will play better in the remaining league matches, which are against better teams,” the coach added.

It may be baptism by fire for the side from Gujarat in this Khelo India tournament. However, by representing a state not known for its sporting prowess outside cricket, they are already setting a good example. The availability of good facilities is a great help and can ensure a good future for the sport in the western Indian state.

Edited by Akshay Saraswat
Be the first one to comment