HOCKEY With a new astro-turf being planned for the Police Stadium, the game is likely to get a fillip

Hockey in the city and in particular, at the Begumpet Police Stadium, which has been the hub of hockey activity for long before its take-over by the Police Department a couple of years ago, will be given a face-lift, if the top brass of the hockey administration puts in place its plans.

The recently-elected president of Indian Hockey Federation, V. Dinesh Reddy insists that a new astro-turf will be laid at Police Stadium within three months and hockey activity will be revived in a big way. “We promise a much better future for the sport and we are working overtime in that direction,” he added.

It may be recalled here that the existing astro-turf (which is unfitfor any play) was laid in 1997. Though the average lifespan of the turf is said to be a maximum of 10 years, hockey tournaments were held even beyond that phase because HHA was active then.

However, with the Police taking over the venue in 2009,the HHA had almost become defunct , especially because of the legal wrangles it got caught in.

Consequently, the Police Stadium was almost forgotten venue for hockey competitions. There was an impression given that the lease agreement file between SAAP and the AP Police was also “missing”.

“We have sorted out everything now. In fact, the Sports Authority of India is showing interest in laying a new astro-turf costing about Rs 1.5 crore and we hope to speed up on this front,” says Tejdeep Kaur Menon,vice-president of HHA.

In fact, hockey fraternity in the City faces a piquant situation. The IHF, headed by Dinesh Reddy, is not recognised by the International Hockey Federation which only supports the Hockey India. But the Union Government supports the IHF. This leads to a confusing scenario which had actually seen very little Hyderabad participation in the Hockey India league recently.

Ironically, the City has two world-class astro-turf venues in Gachibowli which were locked for most of the year!

In contrast, the seriousness and enthusiasm of the present officials are evident from the way they went ahead with National women’s (under-20) championship at Gachibowli. But, clearly the need of the hour is to revive the sport at the local level and ensure that there is some continuity to hockey activity.

“Whatever be the current status, we are here with the passion and sincere desire to promote hockey in a big way. This month-end we are planning a two-day hockey festival for school children at Lal Bahadur Stadium to be followed by many events,” says HHA senior vice-president Ramachander Rao.

But, will the much-awaited change be a “ground” reality? That’s the big question!