Rob van Nes, International Business Development Head, One Million Hockey Legs (OMHL) visited Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) to meet Program Director Moncho Ferrer and other hockey officials to oversee and strengthen their partnership with the ASA Hockey Program.
The One Million Hockey Legs project started back in 2015 with the likes of Floris Jan Bovelander and other Olympians on its executive board. It aims to reach one million young hockey players by 2018 Hockey World Cup to be held in Bhubaneswar, India and increase the participation of rural youth by providing them with necessary training. With this aim, they collaborated with ASA which has a long history of promoting hockey in Anantapur district, Andhra Pradesh. OMHL wants to leave its impression in the Indian hockey legacy and strengthen the relationship between India and Netherlands.
“India can be world champion any day. We need to start from every home as parents need to understand the importance of sports; sports and education can go hand in hand. The skills like team spirit, hard work, communication can be learnt from sports which goes a long way in life”, says Rob van Nes.
Coach education is an important aspect of sport development, as to have a wider impact, the dissemination of knowledge of the game among the grassroots is essential. Many places in India lack infrastructural and up-to-date coach education at local and regional grassroots level which has decreased the number of children playing hockey. India with its 1.3 billion population has only 50,000 hockey players left whereas Netherlands, much smaller in population, has 2.5 lakh players.
“ASA has been promoting sports for many years and is providing good training cum residential facilities for talented athletes. I feel happy to be a part of this project and to help in the promotion of hockey in Anantapur. Wisse and Roderique, the trainers from OMHL who were in ASA in January 2017 for training were surprised to see the vigor and talent ASA hockey players possessed. Other OMHL partners in Jamshedpur, Delhi and Punjab are also doing quite well. Our aim is to spread the hockey culture in the grassroots and simultaneously provide high performance training to athletes who are doing well”, says Rob van Nes.
Vijay Babu, Secretary of Hockey Anantapur said, “ASA plans to conduct a hockey festival/championship in partnership with One Million Hockey Legs with the objective of increasing the participation in rural Anantapur as well as providing with high performance training to boys and girls of the academy”.
India were the first host nation to win the Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 and a little over a year from now, Odisha would host the 14th edition of the Men’s Hockey World Cup. It would be interesting to see how Indian hockey team performs in the World Cup. OMHL’s effort towards developing the sport at the grassroots will go a long way in helping to achieve results at the international level in the future