Former Olympian Hardeep Singh busy marring young hockey aspirants

Punjab MapLudhiana, Feb. 16 : Having contributed his bit as an Olympian, Hardeep Singh Grewal, who used to play as India''s center-half in the team, is helping a new crop of youngsters to rise in hockey.

Hardeep believes the success of Indian hockey at the international stage depends training a new crop of motivated youngsters.

"To uplift Hockey, it is important to nurture boys at the growing stage at schools and colleges. Previously, the boys used to be dedicated about Hockey. But now the charm is less. We don''t see students playing Hockey in schools and colleges, from where we can able to get young talent. I feel we need to bring professionalism in Hockey," say Hardeep Singh.

"Funds are also required for the promotion of Hockey, as it is available for cricket. Boys are more into playing cricket because it help than earn more money and publicity. At present, the cricketers are earning money equivalent to Bollywood stars. Hockey should also be promoted and brought to limelight," Hardeep adds.

The former Olympian regrets that despite being such a large country, we don''t have abundant players to play hockey.

"We are a big country with a population of over a billion people so in comparison to that, we have very less presence of Hockey. In European countries like Germany, Holland and England, they have over 1000 lacrosse. We should prepare for Hockey in schools because lacrosse is different from hockey and played in grass grounds. When there was a trend to play hockey on grass ground, only India and Pakistan used to win the matches. If we return to grass ground again on the international-level, India and Pakistan will be on top again," said Hardeep suggests

He suggests lacrosse for the benefit of Indian hockey and also availability of Astroturf grounds.

"Today, kids get to play hockey on grass. And, thus it develops as their style, so I want to say that more of Astroturf grounds should be provided in schools and colleges. It''s very important and noticeable point because when these kids get used to play on grass grounds, it becomes their style. When they go for training camps for the selection in the Indian team, they fail to qualify. I have seen many boys aged 8-10 years playing hockey on Astroturf, so their basics and style get developed," he said.

Suggesting that Indian Hockey should adapt a mix of Asian and European style in the game and should have a knowledgeable coach conversant with both styles, Hardeep says: "Australia learned hockey from India and now they are teaching us. They basically formed a very good team, so they have mixed Indian style and European style hockey. Until we adapt a mix of Asian and European style hockey, we can''t triumph over European teams. We should be provided a coach who has a good knowledge of both Asian and European styles of hockey. Our coaches need to be imparted training in the international camps." (ANI)