Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Honourable president of India, presented the Not-for-profit organization with Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puruskar 2016 on National Sports Day
One Thousand Hockey Legs project, which has been in search of breaking new grounds after completing eight successful years of service to Indian hockey, got a shot in the arm recently when Shri Pranab Mukherjee, Hon'ble president of India, chose to present the Not-for-profit organization with Annual Sports Promotion Award.
This award is earmarked for the organization that works in identifying and nurturing budding talents over a period of time.
On the eve of National Sports Day -- which is birth anniversary of legendary Dhyan Chand -- sporting excellence awards are being presented by the President on the recommendation of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Though the award is mostly for sports persons since inception in late 50s, a separate section for NGOs and contributing Corporates have been added in the running decade.
This year awards, held on 29th August, evoked keen interest coming closely after Rio Olympics. Four of the Rio heroes and heroines got the Khel Ratna breaking the trend of giving away singe Khel Rata each year. It was so befitting that Hockey Citizen Group, which runs globally acclaimed One Thousand Hockey Legs program, was chosen for this year's decoration in such a festive and traditional occasion.
K. Arumugam, Founder and CEO, received the award amidst the presence of Rio stars and other recipients in the glittering ceremony, organized impeccably by the staff of President of India. A rehearsal was also held a day before the ceremony.
The awards were presented in the Durbar Hall, where independent India's first Prime Minister took oath of office in 1947.
A day before the awards, Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi invited all the awardees and had a brief interaction at his official residence.
During the interaction, the Prime Minister invited all the awardees to forward their positive suggestions on sports development to him so that it can reach the Task Force on sports he will announce shortly.
"This the biggest recognition after Hockey India presented its President's Outstanding Achievement award two winters ago" said the awarded NGO.
"We did not expect such an award from none other than the President of India. It was a pleasant surprise. When my media friends broke the news I did not believe it first. This award will motivate us further. I also hope more and more volunteers join the NGO and help hockey to prosper", said the founder.
"Still there are lot many people who do not take volunteer work seriously. They will all now consider the significant project with the seriousness it deserved"
"My passion of starting and running hockey teams in schools -- especially where low profile and poor kids study -- in a structured way has further been recognized".
The NGO Hockey Citizen Group was started in December 2008, months after two incidents. First, India's failure to qualify for the 2008 Olympics, which many in India considers a Black Day for Indian sports. Secondly, the author of 13 books suffering a heart-attack and undergone angiography.
Surviving a heart-attack Arumugam dedicated his second life to hockey, and added the NGO feather in his cap, the other self-declared responsibility being Author, Publisher, Photographer and hockey-traveler.
This is how both personal incident and a national tragedy combined together to pave way for the birth of One Thousand Hockey Legs, the first project of his NGO, Hockey Citizen Group.
Besides K. Arumugam, his pals V. Ravichandran & PK Mohan and volunteer Shashank Gupta are the others in the trust registered in Delhi.
With the backdrop of gaining onfield experience of last eight years, the NGO has come to the conclusion of how to proceed further, how to upkeep the teams, and expansion.
Corporate sponsorship, more and more involvement of volunteers, expanding horizons to girls section are some of the items that is under consideration and consolidation. The award, as it comes at this juncture, will help the NGO to recast its objectives and executions.
Major milestones for the OTHL since started Eight years ago.
1. Hockey India's affiliation that enabled the NGO to field its combined team in the Sub-Junior National Championships. Year 2013.
2. Three boys getting selected for Delhi State team for the Junior National Championship. Year 2015.
3. Delhi based Jawaharlal Nehru Hockey Tournament Society's invitation to field its combined team in Sub-Junior and Junior competitions. Year 2012.
4. Free education and admission to two OTHL students in a top end private school. Year 2013.
5. Getting 80G and 12 A certificates from Income Tax Deptt besides registration thus becoming a rare hockey organization in India that stands strict scrutiny from legal and procedure angles.
6. Two OTHL boys getting selected for National Hockey Academy based in Delhi.
7. OTHL boy, Kishore Arya making it to the Indian team for U 18 Boys Asia Cup 2016.
8. Formation of two combined teams, Citizen Hockey XI and OTHL XI, and continuous training for them for sterner competitive tasks.
9. About a dozen boys joined various Sports Training Centres of Sports Authority of India where they will get free boarding, lodging and training facilities for full three years.
Developing sustained passion for Hockey by introduction of Hockey to pre and early teenaged children and simultaneously promoting playing sport as a culture and tradition, thereby contributing to develop a sports loving society.