Hockey ace Dhanraj Pillay,politician R R Patil and actor Suniel Shetty are coming together to promote the national game in Maharashtra’s Naxal-hit Chandrapur district and help spot budding talent.
“Catch them young is our motto. We are helping groom future national players,from the tribal areas,” Joint Commissioner (preventive) General,Samir Bajaj who is co-ordinating the event,said.
The annual hockey tournament is being organised by Dhanraj Pillay Foundation and Bramhapuri Taluka Hockey Association from January 24 to 30 at Bramhapuri in Chandrapur district.
Over 40 teams are participating in the event which will be inaugurated by Shetty,Bajaj said.
Shilpa Shukla,who starred in the hugely popular movie on women’s hockey,’Chak De India’ and hockey greats Rahul Singh and Mir Ranjan Negi will be present to motivate the players.
Hockey has bloomed in Bramhapuri despite the lack of infrastructure and economic support,Bajaj said.
“We have launched an initiative to recognise this talent and support it through hockey development programmes. Hockey is being used as a vehicle to nurture youngsters in an atmosphere away from the economic drudgery,he said.
On the genesis of the talent scouting in such a far-flung area,Bajaj said Pillay,Singh and Negi were invited to Bramhapuri in January last for the inauguration of a tournament organised by BTHA.
Around 10,000 people turned up for the event and the overwhelming response of the crowd and the talent of the boys caught Pillay’s attention.
After the event,a few players were invited to Mumbai to participate in the Bombay Gold Cup 2008,Bajaj said.
One of the boys,Pravin Bhivgade,caught the attention of Mumbai selectors and was chosen to play with the Mumbai Junior team in the Maharana Ranjit Singh Memorial Cup 2008 at Amritsar.
Bramhapuri boys have played in other tournaments in Mumbai and made their presence felt,he said.
The tournament will go a long way in creating a platform for experts to assess the talent of the boys,upgrade the skills,shortlist the best for future development and monitoring,Bajaj said.
A hockey development camp was held here in May where youngsters received guidance from Pillay,he said.
Patil,former Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra,has been a source of great support for Bramhapuri hockey and would attend the closing ceremony,Bajaj added.