Magic is about mystery. It’s about making the impossible appear easily done. And best of all, it’s about the open-eyed wonder when it accomplished. Which was why 200 youth hockey players children aged 9 – 18 were told to converge on Singapore’s Delta Stadium sans reason.
They were actually brought together to participate in the 9th edition of the WorldHockey Youth Challenge 2009, a global event which invites Hockey Associations from the world over to focus on youth and its development.
As they looked around in the brilliant Singapore sun, they looked a little surprised at the set up of cones on-field and 6 brightly coloured hula-hoops tied across the face of the goal-post.
With the idea of a conventional game out the window, the host for the day Jerry Singh from the SHF Youth Development Committee introduced the WorldHockey Magic Tricks Competition.
Now after being used to getting the skills set right during training, a tricks competition is totally out of the box. And kids being kids, they took to this venture with a big smile on their face, and some, a naughty twinkle in their eye.
The Open Dribble station was loads of fun when the kids were asked to get the ball in the air after a few dribbles like a lift-off of an airplane. It took a bit of effort and much encouragement before some performed interesting turns and others lots of funny moves.
The Hula Flick Challenge
Just as they thought that they knew how to flick, the youths were asked to do it in reverse - into the hoops hanging on either corners of the goal!
After a quick demonstration, the kids were off lining up and having a go. Not every ball found its mark. But no matter what, the older ones were on hand to encourage the younger ones especially the under-12’s who found it a tad challenging.
A few seemed to learn quickly after watching. Guess things are learnt real quick if the encouraging environment stimulates thinking and promotes a desire to learn.
The Blind Pass
It takes quite a bit to send over an accurate hit, but to hit it with eyes closed!
That’s what happened at the Blind Pass station. The girls somehow performed much better than the boys, except for a few real young ones whose main dream there was to upstage the older ones. And with success too.
One of them was Jaspal Singh. An 11-year-old from St. Andrews Primary School, Jaspal, who picked the game at the age of 7 and was now apt both in the hit and the sweep push.
“I used to come down with my uncle to the hockey field. There I used to watch him play. It seemed like a challenging game. Once I was in school, I took it up and immediately liked it. I guess I like the way it makes me feel physically stronger. Also I enjoy the competition and meeting other students from other schools,” said Jaspal.
It was just after the mid-year exams and this event was a welcome respite for Jaspal and all of the kids on the field.
“This carnival is really fun. I would like to attend something like this very often, especially after the exams,” exclaimed Jaspal.
With some of his hockey future mapped out, Jaspal has decided to play well for his school team and then be a coach.
“I’ll be a coach so that I can share what I know and hope they learn to love the game as much as I do,” said the future coach.
Many a hockey player will know that ball juggling requires great hand-eye coordination. But these guys on the field took it to the limit, with some
‘under-hand‘ activity and others parachuting the ball into the air with their t-shirts acting as a trampoline.
Others ventured to increase their count with careful control the other adventurers used the stick’s front edge to keep the bounce, some even doing it with a few body turns.
With everyone enjoying themselves thoroughly, and making much effort to learn the new skills, it was not very easy to pick any outstanding person.
And The Award Goes To….
The girls proved a little more calculated in their actions, while the older boys remained consistently more flamboyant. The younger boys initially were overawed at the talent of their mentors but made up for it with a little elbow grease.
So in the end the most prestigious award of the day was the one called ‘player who had the most fun’.
And the winner was none other than 11-year old Dinesh Vijayan. The Primary 5 schoolboy from St. Andrews Primary edged out the field with his incomparable energy put out at all the stations. He was always the one in front of the pack no matter if the bigger kids looked more competent at the stations.
Now Dinesh picked up the sport immediately when he entered primary school, at the age of 7. It was no mean feat since he always thought hockey was a dangerous sport; something he surmised when he accompanied his hockey-playing dad, K. Vijayan on his games.
“I thought it was dangerous at first, but after playing it, I realized it was about taking care of yourself as you would do playing other sports’ said Dinesh.
It was clear that Dinesh enjoyed himself tremendously when playing the sport, especially at this special event.
“The game stations were really fun, especially the flicking through the hoops. My Dad taught me to flick the ball, and the other older players there were very encouraging,” said Dinesh.
So what would be the secret to being awarded the ‘player that had the most fun’?
For Dinesh, the secret was Dad.
“My father, who is also a hockey coach is very patient with me when I learn hockey. For every move I make whether right or wrong, he is always encouraging. So as I know more, it becomes more fun,” said Dinesh.
So for Dinesh as with mostly everyone else, a little love and patience often ignites a genuine passion, which is the key to excellence in all sports.
“I will train hard to be in the school team, and one day I hope to be as good as my dad,” said the smiling Dinesh.
For everyone else in the field including Dinesh, the time was not enough to enjoy the moment where hockey magic tricks was given its own time a space on the field.
And with this we anticipate a much bigger crowd of youths next year with definitely more tricks up their sleeves….
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