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One Thousand Hockey Legs
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Emotional Goodbye to Begumpur OTHL School (7/2/2014)
--K. Arumugam
Tearful Goodbye to Begumpur School
OTHL leaves the most successful school as it achieves all the target

Hockey Citizen Group was founded with an aim to create hockey culture in schools, inarguably the first step to promote any sport. Hockey Citizen Group (HCG), after a while with intense brainstorming among themselves, conceptualized a project which was named with the achievable target in its mind and also in its label itself: One Thousand Hockey Legs (OTHL). undefined

One thousand is a target, pertaining to number of kids we want to introduce in each school in each city we chose to operate after getting leader-volunteers. We targeted 20 quality kids in each school, therefore one thousand refers to 500 kids, meaning 25 schools in each city. undefined

Along the way, while we keep the One Thousand target in our mind, we also scrutiny what we do in each school after 3,4 years of work. Our idea is to create a hockey culture, and once a strong team is established and a good support system put in place, we are to leave them to manage their affairs on their own, so that we can move on to next target.

Our objective is not to sit on the asset we created, and gain glory out of it for lifetime. No, not at all, our idea and mission is to spread the game as much as possible in educational institutions, once it is done, the sports will take it own good course and manage itself. undefined

Delhi is the fifth and last city where the OTHL was introduced. It’s a fact in Delhi that out of 2400 Secondary Schools, hardly 10 of them have really worthy hockey teams.

We are happy at this point of time that we created 24 good school hockey team in Delhi, with right age boys in place, coach and play ground, though smaller and basic in needs, to support.

Government Boys Senior Secondary School, Begumpur, is one of the many schools tucked into a remote sides of the city; just in the backyards of Aurobindo College, is hardly known in hockey circle before the school was kind enough to embrace OTHL. undefined

Begumpur is the third school we enrolled in Delhi after Kulachi Hansraj (Ashok Vihar) and Saket. Those who follow OTHL knows for sure Begumpur is the school that gave my NGO a name in the hockey circle. The school did not have any clue on hockey when we took them in the early 2010. There was a basket ball ground, adjoining is a make shift volley ball court. Beyond that a long bush, with thorny shrubs, outsiders often unloading waste building dig outs at their will. The space measuring about 40 X 50 m was diffused, no one daring to go there for the fear of harmful insects it is infested with.

In three years we operated with the school, we made great strides, and one can easily make out that from the facts below: undefined

***The school won the Modernites Sub-Junior Inter-school Cup TWICE.
***The school reached the QUARTERFINALS of the Waverriders’ Inter-school Cup 2013.
***The school’s boy was declared Best Goalkeeper of the above Waveriders’ tournament.
***The school accounts for top six players of the Delhi OTHL XI team, formed out of 18, 20 schools.
***5,6 players of the school were in the All India OTHL team that played successfully in the prestigious Nehru Cup (Sub-Junior) TWICE so far.
***The school won the inaugural Nehru-OTHL organized Dhyan Chand Sports Day Cup last year.
***5 boys of the school also played the 4th HI Sub-Junior Nationals this year at Vadodara representing Citizen Hockey XI, our OTHL brand therein.
***Two of the boys, so gifted and hardworking, were taken into top brand Delhi institution -- Modern School, Barakhamba Road – with free admission, and the duo lifted the school hockey team to higher level.
***The boys also won medals in athletics! Incidentally, both boys are sons of a rickshaw puller.
***So far only one OTHL boy could break into the strong Delhi School Games team; and he hails from Begumpur stable.
***He played the Ranchi SGFI Under-14 Nationals last year. undefined
***Half of the team that reached the semifinals of the Delhi Education Department’s Zonal Championship last year hail from Begumpur.

Then when on earth does the HCG give up the school?

Simply because, we have achieved all our targets in the school such as

***The school now has three teams:
====Senior team (11th and 12th class, Under-17)
====Junior team (8th to 10th class, Under-15)
====Sub-Junior team (6th and 7th class, Under-13) undefined

***The school has a reasonable hockey ground. We first levelled it with JCB; cleared all debris, we were even successful in making green top on virtually a beach like sandy parts of the ground. By all means, we have established a hockey legacy.

***Government of Delhi has acknowledged the improvement the school had made over the last three years, and therefore in their wisdom appointed a part time hockey coach. It means the state government has declared the school as one of the State Hockey Centres.

State Hockey Centre implies the school will henceforth get equipment and technical support regularly.

This is exactly what we want to achieve. We want to be a catalyst. We enter a school where hockey had never been heard of, not to speak of availability of field of play, and make it a neo Hockey Centre. Now the little known Begumpur is a State Hockey Centre.

We gave free equipment, free coaching for three years; created and maintained a hockey ground, got the boys at least six tournament exposures per year, and in the process saw dozen of hockey gems germinating. undefined

This school team visited Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh), Bhilwara (Rajasthan) and Nagpur (Maharashtra).

We, as a concept, don’t want to sit on our achievement to reap its benefits for the sake of growth of our NGO.

Our priority is hockey, not NGO.

Our objective is to create AS MANY BEGUMPURS AS POSSIBLE.

It can only be achieved if we move out of Begumpur.

Yes, this we have done it after a year of dilemma and discussion, mainly because of emotional attachment we all had with this school, as it gave identity to our work in Delhi city.

That’s the reason we bade goodbye to the school on 31st March 2014. undefined

On that day, we invited all the players, gave them a small party, issue certificate based on their duration of practice and degree of achievement. We also thanked School Principal Mr. Varma and Games teacher Mr. Kulwinder Singh for all their co-operation, without which we stood nowhere.

It was also an emotional decision, very difficult to take, as most of the stars of the team are backbone of entire Delhi OTHL phenomena, role models for new kids and sentimentally attached to many of us, HCG volunteers. Besides, at least half a dozen of them are extremely vital to our competitive needs.

We have to, therefore, work hard and double to fill up the talent vacuum created by their exit.

We haven’t just said goodbye to them. We assured the boys that we will continue to monitor the schools’ hockey team for another year or so. We will consider return, though a remote possibility, if any case the system we put in there shows any sign of stagnation.

We also identified SIX PLAYERS FOR MONTHLY SCHOLARSHIP FOR TWO YEARS to get them ready for college admission from two years now on.

This is our tribute to their hardwork and commitment.

Mission accomplished, we move on with mist in our eyes. undefined

Photo Captions:
OTHL Logo
Unused, vegetative, rugged school ground as it existed in the early 2011
Deployed heavy machinery to clear debris, level the ground
As an experiment, planted grass on sandy top and found it working.
Begumpur boys after winning the Modernite tournament
One of the stars of the Begumpur team, Abhisek Rana, with his best player trophy
The first team of Begumpur, shot in 2011
Six of Begumpur boys in the Delhi OTHL XI team
Brajgopal, the forward, is a great trier
Two boys, who were adopted by the Modern School, with the principal

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