The Delhi Hockey Weekend League will be played on weekends at the iconic Major Dhyanchand National Hockey Stadium. Sports minister Anurag Thakur inaugurated the competition on Sunday.
A national hockey coach, in conversation with Sportskeeda, said it will be a good platform to polish competitive skills.
“The Delhi Hockey Weekend League will be an excellent opportunity to improve competitive skills. The initiative will also promote hockey at the grassroots level,” said the hockey coach.
The Delhi Weekend Hockey League is being organized by Delhi Hockey in coordination with the Sports Authority of India (SAI). More than 20 teams in the men’s section have come forward to play in the weekend competition.
According to the hockey coach, the weekend competition in women’s group is also in the pipeline.
“The weekend competition in the women’s category will also take place in the near future. There are a good number of women's hockey players in the Capital,” added the hockey coach.
The inaugural match was played between Shyam Lal College and Faith Club, Shyam Lal College won by three goals to one.
Tokyo Games success has inspired the creation of the hockey league
The sports minister said the outstanding performance of the national teams at the Tokyo Games has given a big boost to hockey in India. The men's hockey team won a bronze medal while the women's team finished fourth.
"There is no dearth of talent in India. The weekend hockey league will encourage more youngsters to come forward and play hockey. Competition is also an integral part of the training,” said the sports minister.
The weekend competition will be played at the practice ground and not on the main hockey pitch or the warmup ground, which also has artificial turf. The main hockey pitch and warmup ground were replaced with new turf in 2019 but the condition of the practice ground is not good. It needs to be replaced.
The stadium was renovated in 2008-2009 for the Delhi’s 2010 Commonwealth Games. All three hockey pitches, including the practice ground, were then replaced.
The surface of the practice ground is not good and there is a proposal to replace old and damaged turf, said a SAI official familiar with the development.
“There is proposal to change the turf as the surface is worn out. We hope it will be done as early as possible,” said the SAI official on condition of anonymity.
The iconic Major Dhyanchand National Hockey Stadium is the main hub of hockey in the Capital. Since SAI has opened the sports facilities post Covid-19 lockdown in April this year, the hockey stadium is bustling with activities.
Young players under SAI’s come and play scheme as well as departmental teams are regulars at the hockey stadium for practice, said a hockey player.
“The stadium was closed in April due to escalating Covid-19 crises in the Capital. Since Covid-19 cases have diminished in Delhi, sports activities have resumed,” added the player.