Last month when Hockey India, the governing body of hockey in India, announced the inclusion of Chandigarh Hockey Academy as academy members of Hockey India, the news not only meant that the 20 trainees of the academy will get a chance to play in the Hockey India tournaments under their academy but also that the academy will be developed as a training centre.
“It has been the biggest news for the trainees of the academy. The fact that only two academies from the region were chosen by Hockey India makes this achievement more commendable for us. It will also mean that the academy can send its teams directly in the Hockey India tournaments. Apart from the exposure, players will also benefit from the training camps conducted by Hockey India coaches and the coaching clinics,” says Gurminder Singh, coach at the academy.
Last year, 11 players of the Chandigarh Hockey Academy were part of the Chandigarh hockey team which won the junior title in the Hockey India B Division Hockey Tournament played in Jammu. Hockey India has inducted academies from Bhopal, Mumbai and Rourkela in the past and the selection of Chandigarh Hockey Academy will mean that the players will get a chance to train along with players from these places. “The players will have a better chance to make it to the national camps. Representing their own academy and playing under the academy’s name will boost their confidence. Last year, Chandigarh team won the tournament as most of the players came from the academy itself,” says Sunita Malik, director (sports), Chandigarh.
For players like Sanjay Kumar and Maninder Singh, who scored more than 27 goals in the nationals in Jammu last year, this will also be an opportunity to impress the Hockey India selectors and get a chance to interact with players from other academies in India. “Even though we will graduate later this year from the academy, we are eager to play in as many tournaments as we can under our academy team. It is like a new recognition for players like us,” says Sanjay Kumar, who scored 15 goals in nationals in Jammu.
Chandigarh Hockey Academy has produced players like Dharamvir Singh, Rupinder Pal Singh, Gurjinder Singh, Harjeet Singh and Harjot Singh, all of whom are currently playing in the national senior hockey team. Having played more than 100 matches for the Indian team, Rupinder Pal Singh is the mainstay of the national side. “I wish this was the case when we played. But it is a big opportunity for the current players at the academy. Being recognised by Hockey India means a lot,” says Rupinder Pal Singh.