Garh Himmat Singh, one of the most laid back villages in eastern Rajasthan houses a Hockey Academy where more than 50 boys and girls have been playing the Indian National Game since a year. Andrea Thumshirn, a first division hockey player from Germany began this academy in July 2010 and aptly called it Hockey Village India.
The children from the village have been learning the game and improving at it each day. Though the conditions of the ground are those which no hockey stick in this world can stand – the dust, sand and stones are painful, the kids don’t mind because they know that their time on a “real” ground will come.
Hockey Village India has had its good times too; the boys had their first match on a full ground last August. While they were standing on the ground like puppets, the academy was proud about the improvement and the talent they have developed. After practice matches in Delhi on astro turf, the highlight of this year was definitely the participation at K. D. Singh Babu U14 tournament in Lucknow where they played against the state teams of Haryana and Chhattisgarh. Even though they lost in terms of scores, the team scored most in terms of experience, and will be back next year.
It is not only the boys who had their highlights – the girls went for their first matches to Jaipur, Delhi and Bhilwara. They even went on to win some of the matches and the academy is proud to have such a strong team with the youngest player being, an 8 years old!
As the Indian team was playing the Olympic Qualifiers in Delhi in February, the kids were taken to watch the final. They stood behind the goal with a big banner and cheered for their country.
Andrea says, “The surprising thing for me was, that the next day, when we had a practice session with the Indian coach Michael Nobbs in the national stadium, they even tried some of the tackling that they have seen during the final the day before! I was thrilled – and so was Nobbs! In the evening our first movie was launched. The documentation about my life and work in the village with the kids was given the sounding name “Winds of change”. Rajpal Singh, Michael Nobbs and Sandeep Singh were there to celebrate with us. The next unique moment was perhaps to stand on stage side by side with Sandeep Singh, who launched our new hockey stick brand HOLI… 5% of the revenue goes to the village.. But back to the village we are again facing reality – the ground is in a very bad condition and less than a quarter of a real field. We definitely reached our limits. And – we can’t take more children as we can only take maximum 14 kids at one time. Behind the Maharaja Fort where I and the volunteers and the 4 Indian families who support the project live, is a big field. As the mustard seed harvest is over now, we did a proper measurement and the result really made my day. We have to move the restaurant and the liquor store 50 meters to the right, but then we have the international size for a full ground – astro turf we are coming. To start with we will level the ground and play there until a big sponsor finds his way to our village and builds an astro turf.”
In July this year Hockey Village India, plans to open their own school from classes 1 to 8 and which will continue till class 12, with a section for the girl’s team and another for boy’s team with strength of 10 children per section. The children will be selected carefully depending on their ability to play hockey. Andrea says, “Unfortunately at the moment we are a little bit in trouble as some of our good boys changed to cricket again, that is why we desperately need the new school”.
Hockey Village India is running without any government support – it is mostly supported by German friends and family – the academy is still waiting for the big sponsors to support them get the ground that they are dreaming of. German volunteers help Andrea with coaching and English classes so that she can meet people and arrange matches, camps and tournaments.
The Fans of Hockey wishes Andrea and the team at Hockey Village India … All the very Best..
Find Hockey Village India at Facebook or visit their website www.hockeyvillageindia.com.