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Minister promises to do his bit for hockey in India

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Revival plans: Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports M.S. Gill at the inauguration of the Kodava Hockey Festival in Ponnampet on Sunday.
Revival plans: Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports M.S. Gill at the inauguration of the Kodava Hockey Festival in Ponnampet on Sunday.

Staff Correspondent

PONNAMPET (KODAGU District): Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports M.S. Gill said here on Sunday that the Government of India would do its bit to raise the sagging fortunes of Indian hockey.

He was addressing a gathering after inauguration the Maneyapanda Twenty 2010—the 14th edition of the annual Kodava Hockey Festival here.

Hockey in the country has remained confined to a few pockets such as Kodagu, tribal belts in Orissa, Jharkhand and Punjab.

Calling Maneyapanda Kodava Hockey Festival as a “special national occasion”, Mr. Gill said he had spoken to president of the International Hockey Federation Leandro Negre that India and other hockey-playing nations in Asia should have a fair share in all matters relating to international hockey, such as management and umpiring. At the same time, he said, India needed experts in all aspects of the game.

He was of the opinion that hockey — like tennis — should be played on different surfaces, such as grass and clay.

This would help retain, and sustain the game's popularity.

Even a small country such as Holland had over 400 synthetic playing surfaces, which has helped produce quality players, Mr. Gill said. India has less than 50.

Lt. Gen. Ballachanda K. Chengappa, who spoke earlier, said Kodagu was synonymous with the game of hockey and termed the occasion the “colossal cultural phenomenon”.

Kodava family hockey festivals had kept the Kodava family pride alive, Lt. Gen. Chengappa said. Maneyapanda M. Somaiah, former India Captain, read out the oath. Maneyapanda Appaiah welcomed. Maneyapanda W. Aiyappa, ‘pattedar' (head) of the family, president of the Kodava Hockey Academy, Pandanda Kuttappa, were present.

An exhibition match was played between All Star Indian XI and Coorg XI in which the latter won 3-2.

All Star Indian XI was led by Dhanraj Pillay and Coorg XI was led by C.S. Poonacha.

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