Despite rain and unpredictable climate, Chennai and Puducherry, the costal centres of OTHL, witnessed a flurry of activities in November 2010.
These activities have been planned as per the overall vision of HCG.
Here is the recap of these carefully planned and immaculately implemented activities.
1) ‘Feel Turf Chennai’. OTHL runs its flagship One Thousand Hockey Legs in Chennai almost a year. Out of three schools, our part time paid coaches go to two schools for six months. However, these trainings have been mostly taking place on the school grounds, which has natural grass or grave. The Feel Turf Program was mooted to get the teams of all these schools on synthetic turf, and get them into a sort of infusing first feeling of turf for the young boys. All three school authorities were kind enough to spare their teams for about two hours, and could organize two matches involving them on the turf. It was first occasion for most of these boys to play hockey on turf. The authorities in charge of Chennai’s Mayor Radhakrishnan stadium were extremely co-operative to allot the turf for our convenient time. Our volunteer Ravichandran was present to witness the goings on, with other volunteer Dinesh and Guy Gomesh landing in time to help us.
2) Three Easy read publications were brought out, one is a poster and others are 28-page booklet. Participants of Feel Turf Chennai program were given a copy each of these publications, and we instantly had a read session as well. The boys were told to repeatedly read them so that they will be in a better position to perform in the future hockey quiz.
3) All boys of the 8 schools subscribed to OTHL in Puducherry were collected at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex twice. The enthusiasm of these boys are to be believed. They are excited to visit Chennai for the Exchange Series. They were handed over forms to be signed for according consent from both schools and individual parent for the proposed tour. Within next day, despite heavy rains, the boys completed the formality. Thankfully, seven out of eight schools agreed for the tour while Amalorpavam did not consent to. Therefore, with lot of heavy heart, we have to leave those four selected boys out. We did not want to take them without due consent from school and parents. In this case, only the school was not interested.
4) These 25 boys and two coaches were asked to assemble at Wisemen School the night before the departure so that as a team they can catch the train early next morning. This arrangement, suggested by our Project Officer K. Manickam, helped us to avoid last minute hassles which otherwise occur when such tours take place, like students reaching the station last minute or missing the train etc.
5) In Chennai , the teams were accommodated in the stadium itself, which meant they were in the hockey atmosphere for the whole of three days. MRK stadium is reasonably a big complex with tennis and volleyball and fitness centres working. Luckily for us, the Chennai League was also going on. The boys, already overawed by the huge MRK stadium structure, had at their disposal time to witness quality matches.
6) On the day of arrival itself, thanks to the dynamism of Clement Rosario, the PET of the St. Anthony Anglo-Indian School, despite being Sunday, their team played a great game against the visitors, their goalie standing out for his great performance. The went down 0-3 but it is a vast improvement over when they played against Don Bosco during the Feel Turf Chennai program a week ago. The winning team was given Rs. 1000 and the runners up Rs. 500.
7) Monday was a big day. On our request, the Head Master Gregory, a hockey player himself in his school days, could postpone a activity to accommodate our game. Their ground was made play worthy, for that he cleared 12 boys for half day. The slogan posters were displayed all along. About 300 boys were asked to see the match taking place on their doors. Puducherry PO our volunteer K. Manickam introduced our scheme to those new hearts. While Guy Gomes distributed, with lot of patience our publications to them. The match was played for a total of 50 minutes. The host won the match at 5-3, the runners up team scoring all the three goals in the second half. The winning team boys agreed that the visitors are a good side.
8) The team got the cash prize as was the case the other day, and Fr. Gregory was the Chief Guest who spoke of hockey for about 10 minutes. He appreciated the help rendered by HCG to uplift our National Game. It was really a big day.
9) The last day was planned to be a match on the premises of Don Bosco HSS in Egmore, but due to some late developments the school could not do. Therefore, with the help of Anthony, a tireless coach with the Tamil Nadu Sports Development Authority, a match was organized at the hockey conscious Govt. Madarsa-i-Azam School, located near the City’s famous Anna Statue area. This school has three teams, their PET Selvam was kind enough to field the Under 14 team on short notice. The visitors won the hard fought match 2-1. Sizeable crowd witnessed the match played on the gravel ground with mud batches due to recent rains still visible there.
10) We found during the discussion with the School Head Master and the PET that the hockey boys do not have much equipment support. And it’s a reality. Therefore, K. Arumugam and Manickam, volunteers of HCG, decided on the spot to given them sticks in stead of cash prize though it will be many times higher to HCG. Another volunteer, Mazar, was contacted, and requested to bring sticks at his disposal. Within short notice Mazar was on the spot, which is of course his alma matter, with the sticks. We could therefore handover 14 high quality sticks to the schools.
11) On the same ground, Pondy schools played another match, against St Anthony. The Puducherry Schools defeated them 4-0 but the fact to be remained here is, the Chennai team is new while the Puducherry team is hardened one with almost one and half year practice. At least half a dozen parents came to witness the match. While we served drinks during the half time, we did not leave them!
12) All publications were distributed to the students here also.
13) Excellent catering arrangements were done for the visiting teams, even once giving them chicken. The catering was the highlight of the whole program.
14) Coaches Bala Ashok and Sudish Kumar, former Puducherry Players, were the thrilled lot, staying with the team, engaging them throughout, carefully using the teams for all the matches, and taking care of personal side.
15) The report will be incomplete if I don’t mention the kindness and care exuded by Mr. Gopinath, the MRK stadium Administrator, throughout our engagement. We only pray such sports minded people be available in every sporting venues.
16) We haven’t spent a fortune on the program, about Rs. 35,000 on a whole, and about a fortnight sparing time by volunteer K.Arumugam. The end result was fulfilling, and at no time the weather gods troubling us, though two days after the Exchange Series, the skies opened up leading to schools closure.
17) The great lesson in the program is, students show enormous enthusiasm to tours and will go any extent to get papers ready for that. Without this kind of zeal, which we did not anticipate in the beginning, the program would not have gone through the precise way we planned.
18) Our next focus will now be to do something similar involving other two OTHL centres, Kanpur and Kolkata, preferably in January 2011
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.