Former national player Suresh Babu, officiating as umpire in a state level women tournament, takes interest in OTHL concept. He is briefed by Arumugam as to how OTHL can be implemented in Chennai if some volunteers come forward from this city. On his request, he is requested to explore scope for the OTHL in Chennai. He discusses with the Physical Education Teacher of a reputed school in Anna Nagar area (State Bank of India Officers Association Higher Secondary School (SBOA School) and comes smiling. .
Arumugam, Suresh Babu and Somesh, our long standing volunteer, went to the SBOA School. We were introduced to PET. Unfortunately, we could not meet the Principal who asked us to meet after the Independence Day. The school has a big play ground, student strength of about 4000.
Arumugam and Suresh then went to JGVV School (Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidhyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School), located in the same Anna Nagar Area. The Principal was courteous enough to grant us an impromptu audience. He informed us that the school had a hockey team till 4 or 5 years ago, but had to be taken off due to ground availability. As many sports are played simultaneously, a hockey ball hit a small girl and it is end of hockey in that school. We offered separate ground and some remedial measures so that hockey can be started again. Principal was not keen, though he did not close the door as well. He is aware of hockey politics in India, we cautiously did not get in to it. We returned with a fond hope we can have another try with the Principal on a later date. This is also a big school, with about 3000 students, has another branch in Anna Nagar itself.
Our third and last attempt on that day was Don Bosco Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Egmore, located hardly half a kilometer from the famous Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium. We met Physical Education Director Sam who took keen interest, and informed us that the school is in the forefront of sports, having acclaimed medals and ranks in so many disciplines. Since hockey is not there, he welcomed the idea of introducing it in the campus. On his advice, we met school Head Master Fr. Rev. Stanley in his grand chamber. We were meanwhile joined by father of a student of the same school, Mazhar. He is a keen follower of hockey, known face in the cityís hokey circle. Principal was shown OTHL website, given Hockey Citizen Groupís published literature and was presented a copy of Great Indian Olympians. It seemed for sure the school will join OTHL.
After a gap of a week, canvassing school in Chennai started again.
17th August: Arumugam met two schools in Santhome area, juxtaposed to each other and near the picturesque Santhome beach region. Perhaps first time a concession was taken to meet school by an individual, in most other cases at least a couple of volunteers did the same.
Both the schools were very high on sports, have big play grounds, separate sports notice boards; array of medals and cups on display are enough indicators.
Brother Rev. granted immediate audience, and listened to the briefing. He called his PET Rup Singh and asked me to brief him as well. Arumugam had a 20 minute session with Rup Singh, who is convinced of OTHL concept. This school has well established and well maintained courts for many sports. Hockey is not one among them. Rup requested us to provide separate coach, with a condition that hockey will be played after school hours. The school will do the needful formalities shortly. He also cautioned us unless the selected students are not constantly engaged, they will not continue in hockey. It is a huge challenge we in HCG need to put our heads on.
The second school was St. Bedeís Higher Secondary School, just 200 meters away and opposite to Santhome Higher Secondary School. Like Santhome HSS, this school too has a sports tradition. Arumugam had a long interaction with the PET Gerrard before meeting the head master of the school. It was gathered that the school is foremost in hockey in the city, winning various school competitions. It appeared that HCG can leave the school from the OTHL ambit as hockey team already exists. However, on a subsequent meeting Fr. Rev. Reddy, the school headmaster, clarified the schoolís team consists of residential school boys of higher age group than the younger age group that the OTHL targets. It was then agreed we will start a team consisting essentially of day scholars from class 5th to 7th. This school was so welcoming that they wanted to give the subscription fee of Rs. Rs.1000 right away!
So, the OTHL will surely start in Chennai. As happened in Puducherry 90 percent of schools we interacted welcomed introduction of hockey in the school premises.
It seems four schools are ready to enlist, and we will wait for two more schools before we take up the city for hockey.
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.