|Will definitely see players rising from Assam: HI president|
GUWAHATI, Oct 19 - Although hockey in Assam still remains at a very nascent stage, Hockey India’s officiating president Gyanendro Ningombam is quite optimistic regarding players making it big in the game. With the facilities and infrastructure in place, Ningombam is very much confident about players from the State making their way into the national squads in the near future. In an interview with The Assam Tribune, the Hockey India chief, who is from Manipur, spoke about a number of aspects regarding the game in the Northeast as well as the national team’s plans ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
Excerpts from the interview: The Assam Tribune (AT): We have seen quite a few players from Manipur and Mizoram join the Indian team. Would we see a rise of hockey players from Assam in the near future?
Gyanendro Ningombam (GN): We will definitely see hockey players rising from Assam in the upcoming years. All the facilities and infrastructure are there at the disposal of the players and they have to use this opportunity to better their game. Hockey India has continuously made efforts to improve the standard of coaching and technical officiating throughout the country and therefore the players have a great chance to improve their game with the help of efficient coaches and technical officials.
AT: What are your plans for the development of hockey infrastructure in Assam?
GN: The development of hockey infrastructure in Assam has been a continuous process for many years. We have consistently helped Assam Hockey with construction of synthetic pitches, facilities and equipment. We certainly hope that the State Government has an opportunity and will support our ambitious plans to construct more synthetic pitches in Assam in the upcoming years. Hockey is being played in around 26 districts in the State and Assam Hockey has been consistently making efforts to encourage more people to take up the sport.
AT: Since you are from the Northeast, how do you think it will benefit the sport in the Northeastern states?
GN: Being the Officiating President of Hockey India, I have to give equal importance to all regions of our country. Hockey India has consistently made tremendous efforts to grow the sport of hockey across India and I am trying my best to contribute to the evolvement of the sport across all states. It’s wonderful to see the way hockey has moved forward in India in the last 10 years and we hope that we can continue to help youngsters take up hockey all over the country.
AT: What are your plans regarding the development of hockey in the Northeast?
GN: Hockey India has continuously supported all the state member units in the Northeast. There are two full-sized synthetic pitches in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram respectively. Hockey India has been consistently putting in efforts to encourage its member units to coordinate with State Governments to construct more synthetic pitches in the Northeast and grow the infrastructure further in the region. There are ample opportunities for youngsters to take up the sport of hockey and go on to represent India.
AT: Given the current situation, are there any plans for the Indian teams to travel abroad for matches against top teams before the Tokyo Olympics?
GN: We are certainly hoping that the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams will get enough practice against top teams before the Tokyo Olympics and our proposed ACTC has already been submitted to SAI. However, the situation around the world is changing everyday and we have to take each day as it comes. We have to ensure that our players are safe as and when they get a chance to compete in tournaments.