One Million Hockey Legs to strengthen its ties with Anantapur

OMHL trainers interacting with ASA hockey players in 2016

OMHL trainers interacting with ASA hockey players in 2016

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.

Rob van Nes meeting Program Director Moncho Ferer and other hockey officials.

Rob van Nes meeting Program Director Moncho Ferrer and other hockey officials.

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

Stick for India returns to ASA after ASV Hockey Academy celebrate 10th anniversary

The Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) just concluded the 10th Anniversary celebration of its hockey academy earlier this year. And now it welcomed Andreu Enrich, the man who strengthened Hockey in Anantapur through the Stick for India project. Andreu is here to relive the 10th Anniversary celebrations and a decade long commitment to bring sports to rural India particularly Anantapur. He is doing that through the Stick for India and Hockey. Andreu spoke to us about this year’s camp and shared with us about how the 10 year celebrations have been very special. He also gave us some insights on the camp itself.

Andreu with some of the younger boys at camp

Andreu with some of the younger boys at camp

What made this year’s camp different?

The Stick for India camp structure hasn’t changed much. We trained the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) Hockey Academy teams with a greater intensity this year. This is because we have observed that they continue to improve by leaps and bounds. However the coaching methodology and philosophy remains the same. We visited grassroot schools, played hockey games with the girls and the boys, spoke to their PE teachers and Headmasters, etc.

What did you have in mind when you brought more women coaches over this year?

The focus has always been to empower young girls through sport. We did not plan to have more women coaches this year. However, during the pre-camp period we floated a campaign to invite volunteer coaches. To our surprise, we received more applications from women coaches, and that favoured our aim at women empowerment.

The visiting Spanish coaches along with a few children from the camp

The visiting Spanish coaches along with a few children from the camp

What was your aim of the camp this year?

We received support from Sportways. Its a Dutch company that extended support to the project by providing us their coaching methodologies, modules and kit. Their philosophy to hockey is based strongly on the concept of “Fun and Learning.” We believe in the same principles. We therefore aimed to ensure that more children play the sport and enjoy doing so during this year’s Stick for India camp.

The ASA celebrated the Hockey project’s 10th anniversary, how do feel when you look back to see your involvement with the project for so many years?

I am very happy to have been part of the project. The overall progress of the program has been very satisfying as the numbers at the grassroots grow at a fair pace. This motivates me to keep moving forward. For me initially, it was only about growing the reach of my sport and working with Rural Development Trust (RDT). Now it is completely different as the project is affecting so many lives in such a positive manner.  I am just overjoyed about that fact. I do regret not being able to be there during the celebrations though but knowledge of the fact that the program celebrated its 10th year along with the opportunity I get to be here every year with all these beautiful and enthusiastic children makes me feel really wonderful.

ASV Hockey Academy celebrates Olympic Day to support Hockey India as they qualify for Rio 2016

Citius, Altius, Fortius. These three words defined sports in the world when they were chosen to be the Olympic motto. And the significance of this motto is greatly amplified as numerous countries the world over part take in Olympic Day celebrations on the 23rd of June every year marking the day the modern Olympic games were born.

This year however, Hockey India took special interest in the celebration of Olympic Day 2016 as India’s Women’s team has qualified for the Olympic Games after a long gap. Both India’s Women and Men’s teams will be participating alongside for the first time in 36 years. Attempting to resurrect India’s past successes in Hockey at the Olympic Games and encourage the Indian teams by promoting a nationwide support movement, Hockey India called upon all of its member units and academies.

ASVHA girls put the ‘Rest of Andhra Pradesh’ goalkeeper to the test

ASVHA girls put the ‘Rest of Andhra Pradesh’ goalkeeper to the test

Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) is one of the few initiatives that focusses on the equal participation of both boys and girls in sport, with hockey playing a vital role in this. Its Anantapur Sports Village Hockey Academy, (ASVHA) is the only academy to receive a Hockey India accreditation in Andhra Pradesh owing to Hockey India’s stringent accreditation guidelines. And this brings on an added responsibility of exemplifying its participation in any activity organised by Hockey India.

Therefore ASA, along with Hockey Andhra Pradesh, made its own unique contribution to support the cause of Hockey India. It organized friendly games between ASVHA and Rest of Andhra Pradesh U19 teams at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) for both boys and girls. This step was taken when Hockey India called on all of its member units and academies to organise tournaments and friendly games in the run up to the Olympic Day celebrations. The games would signify the teams coming forward to show their support for their national teams on this occasion.

Tri-coloured ASVHA boys moving goalwards during their clash with the ‘Rest of Andhra Pradesh’

Tri-coloured ASVHA boys move goalwards during their clash with the ‘Rest of Andhra Pradesh’

The rest of Andhra Pradesh teams arrived on the evening of the 20th of June 2016. The boys’ teams were scheduled to play in the evening of the 21st June 2016 and the girls’ games would take place early morning on the 22nd June 2016. Both the teams came united to assert their support for Team India at the Olympics at Rio 2016, before displaying their competitive spirit during the match.

The experienced ASVHA boys took the Hockey Andhra Pradesh teams to task on their home surface, dominating possession and controlling the game on their terms for a 5-1 win over the visitors. However, a lack of experience for the ASVHA girls, most of whom joined the ASVHA only last year, showed initially as they played the game in catch up mode throughout the first half with the visitors constantly taking the lead and the hosts coming back to draw level for a half-time score of 3-3. The second half seemed similar, however the hosts dug deep for an eventual 8-6 win.

ASVHA girls flaunt their tri-colored jerseys with a ‘Thumbs Up’ in support for the Indian Hockey teams at Rio 2016

ASVHA girls flaunt their tri-colored jerseys with a ‘Thumbs Up’ to support the Indian Hockey teams for Rio 2016

The games not only allowed these teams to keep up to the competitive spirit, but also uphold the true motive of the celebrations and their show support to both our Indian Hockey Women’s and Men’s teams to encourage them in their quest for a coveted Olympic medal.

ASA Hockey Academy celebrates 10 years of developing lives through Hockey

Anantapur finally managed to see some showers ahead of the 8th Father Vincent Ferrer Memorial Hockey Championship 2016. Resultantly experiencing pleasant weather to welcome the championship that would celebrate 10 years of Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) Hockey Academy. Celebrations that marked 10 years of the ASA Hockey Academy’s promoting India’s national sport among the rural youth to educate and develop them and affect a sporting cultural change in the region.

Teams arrived at the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) on the 3rd June 2016 and got down to acclimatizing to the relatively warmer weather of Anantapur despite the rains. The tournament took shape with 14 teams, around 230 of the finest athletes in South India contesting for the honour of having the Father Vincent Ferrer Memorial Hockey Championship trophy don their cabinets.

RDT Executive Director, Anne Ferrer welcoming teams with inspiring words

RDT Executive Director, Anne Ferrer welcoming teams with inspiring words

The championship began with RDT Executive Director, Anne Ferrer encouraging the young athletes with warm words and later declaring the championship open on the evening of the 4th June 2016. This marked the beginning of the league stages of the championship.

Eight boys’ and six girls’ teams made up the roster. The boys’ competition set between Jude Felix Hockey Academy (JFHA), Bangalore, RV Academy, Chennai, Medical College, Chennai, Sports Club, Kovilpatti, G.V.G. Udumalpet, RDT Anantapur, RDT Dharmavaram and hosts RDT’s ASA Hockey Academy. The girls’ competition on the other hand was contested between RGV Kovilpatti, GVGW Udumalpet, Department of Youth Services and Sports (DYSS) Mysore & Bangalore, JFHA Bangalore and hosts ASA Hockey Academy.

The championship followed a league cum knockout structure with both the boys and girls split into two pools. Each team would play their pool contenders once with the top two teams in each pool advancing to the semi-finals where they would face-off in a knockout setting to make their way to the trophy.

Images from the action packed League stages

Images from the action packed League stages

The league stages came off quite hard fought, with quite a few of the games going down to the wire, being decided in the dying minutes. The boys’ competition came through after some intense games with the semi-finals eventually seeing R.V. Academy and RDT Dharmavaram from Pool A and ASA Hockey Academy and JFHA Bangalore from Pool B, whereas the girls’ competition saw DYSS Mysore and RGV Kovilpatti from Pool A and ASA Hockey Academy and GVGW Udumalpet from Pool B.

A tooth and nail effort saw RDT Dharmavaram and JFHA end the first semi-final with 3 goals each. Nerves were tested as the teams took to a nail biting shoot-out. Where both teams drew again at 3 a piece in their stipulated 5 shootouts going into sudden death for a result. JFHA goalkeeper fouled Dharmavaram player in his sudden death shootout attempt leading to a penalty stroke, later silencing the supporting Anantapur crowd to take the JFHA boys to the final with a 2-1 sudden death score to play the hosts ASA Hockey Academy who convincingly defeated RV Academy 3-0 in their semi-final. The ASA Hockey Academy girls controlled every moment of their 8-1 semi-final win over RGV Kovilpatti while DYSS Mysore managed a 3-0 win over GVGW Udumalpet to arrive into the finals.

The finals were decided with overwhelming wins. The Boys final saw hosts ASA Hockey Academy dominate proceedings right from the start to beat JFHA 5-0. While the girls competition closed as ASA Hockey Academy went into half time being one goal down, eventually conceding two more for a 3-0 scoreline losing to DYSS Mysore.

 Shots from the Finals


Shots from the Finals

Hockey Anantapur Secretary M H Vijayababu shared, “We have grown greatly throughout this eventful decade with just one hockey summer camp organized with Spanish players Andreu Enrich and Santi Freixa back in 2006 to now having close to 1700 children play hockey throughout the district. As for our teams in the championship, it was only a matter of experience that made the difference. Our boys have been in the academy for a couple of years now and their teams had some favourable playing time before this championship at national level tournaments in Nagpur and Kovilpatti. Most of the girls however have been with the academy only this year and are relatively inexperienced, but have played exceptionally to reach the finals and their performance despite the lack of experience was fulfilling. We only look forward to having a more competitive infrastructure for the future, continue to grow and develop these children and more throughout the hockey program with more of them being able to secure jobs through their influence on the field much like many of their predecessors who now serve in the Police, the Army and as PE Teachers”

RDT supports Hockey Andhra Pradesh by hosting the Women’s National camp at the ASV

It is not the first time that the Anantapur Sports Village (ASV) has hosted a national camp for athletes representing Andhra Pradesh. As a result, Rural Development Trust’s (RDT) Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA) program continues to grow from strength to strength as an institution in itself. Simultaneously it continues to fortify a changing belief that rural India can become a hub for sporting development. With a relatively poor and desert like district of Anantapur emerging as a front runner of this changing belief and the hard work of RDT to make it a recognizable and formidable sporting destination of India standing out as an easily noticeable fact behind this.

Hockey Andhra Pradesh senior women’s team before they left for Bangalore

Hockey Andhra Pradesh senior women’s team before they left for Bangalore

This time around, amidst exams and the closure of the academic year, the ASV hosted a national level Hockey camp. This camp housed 36 young women, the finest athletes that Andhra Pradesh has to offer to the game. These young women put in their heart and soul into this preparatory camp that would lead upto the upcoming nationals. Continue reading →

1MHL visits RDT Hockey Academy

After some great hockey during this season and quite a few trophies donning the shelves, Rural Development Trust (RDT) welcomed one of their first ever guests from the Hockey loving nation of Netherlands, a renowned sports business development strategist, Rob van Nes on 12th January, 2016.

Rob displaying some of his Hockey skills before posing with the Hockey Girls from RDT Hockey Academy

Rob displaying some of his Hockey skills before posing with the Hockey Girls from RDT Hockey Academy

Rob,  with Dutch Hockey Star Floris Jan Bovelander, has co-founded a great sporting initiative that is directed towards the development of hockey at the grassroots level in India. This visionary initiative is the “One Million Hockey Legs (1MHL)” program. It is also a great platform for India & the Netherlands to build great relations and develop a better sporting infrastructure at the grassroots and business relations in India with the help of the Netherlands. Continue reading →