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The Hindu: Rathore for return of hockey to natural turf (12/29/2018)
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The Hindu: Rathore for return of hockey to natural turf

Vijay Lokapally

Sports Minister advocates the return of hockey to natural turf

Hailing hockey legend Dhyan Chand as an iconic international sportsman, Union Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Rathore hoped the game would benefit from the rich legacy left by past stalwarts.

Releasing GOAL, an autobiography of Dhyan Chand, at his office here on Friday, Rathore said, “Every sport should have a place under the sun. People have regionalistic likings as well for sports. And then there are multiple sports that have a pan-India appeal. Rather than being enforced by a government directive, something like sports should be left to the fans to decide.” He was giving his opinion on should hockey be declared the national game.

GOAL, published by Sportstar, is a 261-page book where Dhyan Chand takes the reader on his hockey journey. Apart from memories of his playing days, the legendary forward gives important tips on the technicality of hockey. An added feature of the book is an emotional tribute by 1975 World Cup-winner Ashok Kumar in a chapter titled ‘Remembering Dhyan Chand, The Father.’

Speaking on his association with hockey, Rathore said, “I have played all sports. I have played hockey as well very actively during my school and military academy days. I loved the game. It’s a very fast game. I think it’s one of the fastest field games apart from ice-hockey. Today it requires tremendous strength, stamina and strategy. Of course, the skill levels also need to be very high.”

Advocating a return to natural turf for hockey, Rathore observed, “Because India is growing as an economy power and because of the large number of fans, I would want the international federation, which Mr. (NK) Batra is the president, to start leagues on natural turfs to save water.

“The astro turfs requires so much water for maintenance and it can prove a very expensive affair. Natural turfs can be set up in every district of the country. Natural turf is something that hockey can return to. Or, develop turfs that don’t need water. These are two imperatives for hockey to grow in India.”

On the forthcoming edition of ‘Khelo India’ to be held in Pune early next year, Rathore said, “It’s a very revolutionary and visionary step by the Prime Minister. It has the capacity to create a massive ground movement and upsurge of talent.

“It’s a very high standard of platform available for school children to perform at where truly two things should matter — studying and playing.

“They don’t have the pressures of a job. At school level, if they can enhance their performance and come up to the regional and national level, we will lift them up to the international level by selecting a 1000 athletes every year.”

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