The only school in Eastern India which has an artificial hockey turf is now grooming its girls for a women’s hockey team.
Ravneet Kaur, a proud headmistress of Khalsa English High School at Bhowanipore in South Kolkata, told us how the school encouraged hockey among its students and produced hockey players of international and national level. She said that people like Olympians Baljit Singh Saini who was the captain of the Indian hockey team and is now the coach for Indian women’s hockey team and Jagdish Singh Gill who now plays hockey for Canada are products of the school.
Spread over an area of nearly 10,000 square feet, the turf was bought in 2011 from New Zealand at a cost of Rs 60 lakh, half of which was donated by hockey lovers.
Kaur said that 25-30 girls were being trained regularly and a team would be built. She however, said that opting for sports as a career in our country is still a risky affair and parents put in more stress on academic qualifications. In the process many natural talents for the game are lost owing to lack of patronisation.
Talking about their new policy of tapping young talents, she said, "As far as the boys are concerned, compared to the earlier practice of training boys of and over 14 years, now boys of 8-9 years are also trained to find out the latent talent in them."
Established players who had been students of the school come down regularly to give useful tips to budding hockey players.
The school has been following a strict rule in terms of using the AstroTurf – no one is allowed on it with spiked shoes, no one is allowed to eat on the turf and even refrained from putting chairs on it.