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”

Andreu dreams of producing an International Hockey Player from Anantapur, but…

Andreu Enrich, former Spanish International Hockey Player, dreams of producing an International Player from Anantapur through Stick for India (a hockey project of Rural Development Trust (Fundación Vicente Ferrer) started in 2006 by Santi Freixa and Andreu Enrich)

Andreu Enrich dividing the groups for the drills of session at Stick for India Hockey Academy at RDT Anantapur

Andreu Enrich dividing the groups for the drills of session at Stick for India Hockey Academy at RDT Anantapur

Andreu came to India for the first time in 2005 with the national team of Spain to participate in the Champions Trophy at Chennai. He and Santi extended their stay to visit RDT at Anantapur. After the visit, they proposed a hockey school.

To find the response for hockey among the kids, they started off with summer camps, which were received well among the children where nobody talked about hockey. And, then hockey was introduced at 10 adopted centres, where boys/girls teams were formed and leagues were played. Continue reading →

WSH Preparatory Camp commences from 10th Dec

WSH Preparatory Camp commences from 10th December for all the teams. Most of the international players and coaches will arrive in India and assemble with the entire squad. The first batch with international stars like Sung Min Lee (South Korea), Stephenson Lloyd James (New Zealand) and Andreu Enrich (Spain) have already arrived.

Jose Brasa

Jose Brasa, Head Coach Chennai Cheetahs ((C)stick2hockey.com)

The next set of international players including the Pakistanis will be arriving in the next couple of days. The high intensity camp has been specially designed by the coaches keeping in mind individual skill sets that can be synced with the team strategy.

Jose Brasa, Head Coach, Chennai said “All the teams are a fine mix of international superstars and fantastic local talent. However the players would be playing as a cohesive unit for the first time. The preparatory camps have been designed to build team bonding and create a winning strategy using the diverse skills each of the players bring to the table.”

South Korean star Sung Min will be a star player for the Mumbai team. He says – “I am eagerly looking forward to meeting my team mates. I have already had a few interactions with my captain Adrian and my coach Andrew Meredith. The coach has a very interesting schedule chalked out for the preparatory camp.”