As the Sub-Junior National Camps commences today in the world-class Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, it usher in a new era for Indian Hockey – one that promises to strengthen the grassroots structure in the country and provides a pathway for youngsters to shine. A total of 80 players including 40 boys and 40 girls from across the country will step on the pitch, which hosted the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 Bhubaneswar – Rourkela earlier this year, and will be coached by a team of support staff comprising highly accomplished hockey players.
With iconic players Sardar Singh and Rani – both Khel Ratna awardees being signed up as Coaches for boys and girls respectively, the aspiring players have been provided with a rare opportunity to work closely with their idols, not only learning from them on-the-field but also off-the-field.
In addition, the camp will also see former India Women’s Captain Asunta Lakra, Odisha’s home-grown hero Lilima Minz join Rani in coaching the Sub Junior Girls while Asian Games gold medalist Lazarus Barla, Asia Cup winner and legendary goalie Adrian D’Souza will join Sardar in mentoring the Sub-Junior Boys. The support staff also features Coaches who have completed their Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway certification.
The support staff also includes qualified physios, who have previously worked with sports teams, thus ensuring a holistic approach to training and recovery. Players will also be exposed to critical aspects such as injury prevention.
To introduce a grassroots system that will provide uniform coaching that is on par with the existing national programme for Junior and Senior Indian Teams is a brainchild of visionary Hockey India President Padma Shri Dr Dilip Tirkey, a veteran of 412 international matches and has been backed by the Secretary General Shri Bhola Nath Singh, who also leads a comprehensive grassroots programme in his home state of Jharkhand that has produced several international hockey players, particularly in the women’s category.
Expressing his delight over the commencement of the Sub-Junior National Camp today, Dr Tirkey said, “I am happy that Hockey India has set in motion a comprehensive grassroots development programme this year. We began with the first-ever Zonal Championships followed by the Annual National Championships from where players from the Sub-Junior category were identified for this camp. I am very grateful to the Odisha state government for supporting this programme by allowing us to conduct it at the state-of-the-art Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium which also houses an international-standard hockey village where the athletes will be staying during the camp. I believe, this national camp will not only give these young players a chance to learn from their idols and former international hockey stars who have been appointed as coaches, but it will also give ample experience to aspiring coaches who have been chosen through Hockey India Coaches Education Pathway programme.”
Echoing the President’s views, Shri Bhola Nath Singh, said, “I believe this programme will revolutionise the sport in the country by bringing a uniform coaching structure. It is a huge opportunity for young players to utilize world-class facilities at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium and I am happy to note that the programme has been meticulously planned ensuring it adopts a comprehensive approach – from equipment to skill building. When Dilip ji and I were elected into the Hockey India Executive Board, one of our main focuses was to improve the grassroots structure and we are happy to see the concept turn into reality.”