At the age of 14 he played hockey with boys in Malaysia
Coimbatore: When boys of his age were busy playing video games and the like, S. Ashwin of Satchidananda Jothi Niketan wielded the wooden stick. At 14 he has already played sticks with some of the young hockey professionals (sport school boys) in Malaysia.
It was the school and the Coimbatore wing of Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu that spotted the genius in this boy. Ashwin has all the talent of a fine inside-left.
The wiry youngster found it hard to tackle those tough situations in the initial years but never once allowed his mind to waver.
It was this strong mindset that is now earning him all the name and fame among boys of his age group in the State. A couple of years ago, the sports authority conducted a battery of tests (World Beaters Scheme) in various disciplines for schoolboys in the district.
Ashwin and three other players from Coimbatore - P. Vignesh (GKD), S. Srinivasan (SJN) and Rajiv (R.K. Sreerangammal) - were screened as promising talents for the State-level hockey selections in Chennai.
Ashwin impressed the selectors with his strong penetration, movement and scoring sense.
It was this ability in him that earned him a place in the 16-member squad for the sports authority-sponsored Malaysian tour earlier this month.
"The Malaysian tour helped us a great deal. Only after we clashed sticks with some of the best sports schoolboys at the Hoki Pandamaran Stadium in Klang did we realise that there was a big difference between our style of play and theirs," says Ashwin, who has represented his State in the all-India school games in 2004.
"Their fitness standards were extraordinary and strategies excellent. Their game was very fast and we clearly found that we lacked the fitness and the speed. We, however, picked up a few techniques by watching their stars in action during league matches. We should consider ourselves lucky because we got to play in the Astroturf," he adds.
Ashwin, who is being groomed by his school's physical director and coach Senthil Rajkumar, wants to represent the Indian sub-junior side before he finishes schooling.
The youngster, who will be moving to Standard IX this year, is confident of achieving it in the next three years.
"We have some of the best hockey facilities in our school. Also, everybody, including my parents, is willing to support me," he says.
"He is improving his skills at a rapid pace. He has already started throwing challenges to the plus two boys. And, I bet he can realise his dream," says R. Ramakrishnan, the sports authority coach.