As part of our series looking at some of the standout Global hockey Projects from 2016, we look at some projects in Asia that have the potential to inspire others in 2017...
With large, teeming cities and rural communities that suffer serious deprivation, introducing a sustainable hockey programme is a huge challenge in many parts of Asia. Here we meet three organisations that are determined to make a difference.
Pakistan seek to regain former glory
Pakistan Hockey is going through a rebuilding process after the men’s team failed to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Determined to do something to restore the sport to its former place as a national sport, in July, the Pakistan Hockey Federation announced it would be laying 100 mini synthetic turfs in schools and colleges across Pakistan as part of a development programme to strengthen the country’s national game.
PHF Director (Development and Domestic) and Olympian Naveed Alam said that the Federation has already completed the first phase for implementing this project.
“We began the first phase before Ramadan, which has been completed now,” he said. “We had asked the provincial associations to inform all government and private schools about this project, and send the list of schools which have space and are willing to contribute in this project.”
PHF will now begin a survey on the collected data, and narrow down the number of schools and colleges which will be getting mini synthetic turfs.
“The list will be further shortened to 100 on the basis of space as well as whether it is public school or a private one,” said Alam. “However, higher preference will be given to government schools,” he added.
“This whole project is for five years, which includes 500 mini synthetic turfs across the country as well as five-a-side tournaments between the schools and colleges,” said Alam.
“Many incentives will also be provided to players participating in these tournaments, including scholarships,” he added.
Project gathers pace in India
One Thousand Hockey Legs is a project based in India that introduces hockey to school kids.
It's a programme that was started by K Arumugam, the founder of the non-governmental organisation Hockey Citizen Group, with the aim of providing children with an opportunity to understand, play and enjoy hockey.
The programme structure includes forming one or two teams per school, conducting friendly matches between schools, forming a team in each city, participating in state and national level competitions, holding exhibition matches, organising an annual hockey run and mentoring talent for the national team.
The sub-plot of One Thousand Hockey Legs is to help lift disadvantaged children out of poverty and give them an opportunity for a better life.
Explaining in greater depth just what One Thousand Legs hopes to achieve, Arumugam says: “The chief target of the NGO is to bring 500 new kids into hockey in each city in India. The idea is to start and then run hockey teams in at least 25 schools in each city.”
Currently, OTHL is working with teachers in 80 schools across five cities. This target has already been reached in Delhi, and an additional target was met when three young players from Delhi were selected to play in the 2015 Junior National Championships.
“It is an uphill task, but so far, we have introduced about 2,400 children to the sport.” said Arumugam, who received the Hockey India Outstanding Achievement of the Year award in 2014.
The most recent initiative is the new Sunday league which OTHL runs to encourage young people who have dropped out of the formal hockey programme because of academic overload or an inability to make the school teams. This accounts for about 25 per cent of the students who started playing the sport and is an informal and fun way to re-engage with the students.
Hockey scores in villages
Hockey Village India was founded by Andrea Thumshirn in 2010, with the first hockey village, Garh Himmat Singh, opening in Rajasthan. Since then, four more Hockey Villages have opened across India, always in rural areas with high levels of deprivation.
Andrea, who was a German national junior player, outlines what life is like for the children in these areas. “Most of our kids are from poor farmer families. We provide them with everything from shoes, socks, shorts, shirts, sticks, shin pads, track suits. We provide transport, accommodation and food when we go out for matches and tournaments. We even bought three cows to provide milk so the little ones get some proteins. These kids are smaller in size and more skinny than the same age group kids in the cities.”
Through the Hockey Villages, the pupils are given a basic, modern education, including English, mathematics and computing as well as drawing and arts. Then the pupils get sport – hockey - every day.
Andrea explains: “Besides education, we believe in sports, as sports is important for a healthy body, for so many important skills in life like team spirit, motivation, going to our limits and achieving something.”
For more information about hockey in the Asia region, visit the Asian Hockey Federation website by clicking here.