IT WAS a moment to remember for more than 150 hockey players from universities across north India as the players spent time with triple Olympic gold medallist former Indian captain Balbir Singh Senior at the Panjab University hockey grounds on Thursday. Senior, who was also the chief coach and manager of the 1975 World Cup winning Indian team, inaugurated the newly laid astro turf at the PU grounds followed by the start of the North Zone Inter University Hockey (Men) Championship.
“I still remember my days when I completed my bachelor’s degree from Punjab University in Lahore and was pursuing my master’s degree, when I had to run away from the university due to fear of the then Punjab Police chief who wanted me to join Punjab Police and play hockey for them. I participated in the All India Inter-University Championship till 1945 and also captained the combined Punjab University team before Partition.
It feels good to see the new astro turf at the PU grounds. I am sure players will utilise this opportunity to realise their dreams of representing the country,” said 93-year-old Balbir Singh Senior while addressing the players.
The newly laid astro turf at the Panjab University grounds is the third full size turf in the Tricity, with Sector 42 Sports Complex and International Hockey Stadium, Mohali, being the other two grounds The North Zone Inter-University Hockey Championship is seeing the participation of more than 10 teams. The final will be played on January 3. The ceremony also saw the presence of Pargat Singh, former Indian captain and current Congress MLA from Jalandhar Cantt.
“Sports plays a huge role in the development of youth and my advice to the youth is to pursue sports with passion and intelligence. Education and health are a must for today’s youth. A sportsperson learns many things while playing, which helps him in life. Hockey has been one of the most popular sports in the region and this astro turf will provide a platform for the youth to achieve their dream of playing for India,” said 52-year-old Pargat Singh.
Former Indian hockey goalkeeper Baljit Singh Dadwal too was present on the occasion and shared his thoughts with the players. “A university should have infrastructure like an astro turf and it will also mean that players of colleges, who do not train at any academy, can train here. The authorities should make sure that proper maintenance is done for the turf and the facility is fully utilised for the players. Even former players can be consulted to give training sessions for college and university players,” said Dadwal, who was the man of the match in India’s Asia Cup title win in 2007.
Meanwhile, MDU, Rohtak, scored a 13-1 win over Dr B R Ambedkar University, Agra, in a match while Kurukshetra University scored a 4-0 win over Lucknow University.