Bombay Republicans Club, nursery of hockey talent for Mumbai and India for five decades, enters its 50th year on Saturday.
Founded on Republic Day in 1963 by the late B.K. Mohite, the club has contributed five Olympians, numerous senior and junior internationals, apart from junior talent.
Merzban Patel, co-founder, said that that two youngsters from the club, Yuvraj Walmiki and Anup Walmiki, figure in the ongoing Hockey India League for Delhi Waveriders and Mumbai Magicians respectively. World Series Hockey had three Republicans youngsters competing — Amit Gowda, Devender Walmiki and Sudhir Dixit.
Patel had a special visitor a few days ago when Delhi Waveriders came to play the Hockey India League away game at the Mahindra stadium. India captain Sardar Singh greeted the Republicans co-founder on the club boost for India hockey.
Republicans have no ground or turf of their own, the youngsters train on the cement courts behind the spectator stands at the Mahindra stadium, where both WSH and HIL events are held.
Patel added that club players who go on to attend national camps and become senior internationals come back to train the next batch of youngsters.
Others chip in with hockey equipment and coaches like Cedric and Lobo keep the youngsters updated about latest hockey trends and developments.
The Mumbai Hockey Association allows the club youngsters free use of the turf on match days during the local leagues.
The hockey Olympians who learnt their first lessons representing the club at Mumbai tournaments are Adrian D’Souza, Viren Rasquinha, Jude Menezes, Gavin Ferreira and Vivek Gupta. Two India coaches, namely Cedric D’Souza and Clarence Lobo, are also former BR players. D’Souza, India first choice goalkeeper, was among the nominees for FIH Promising Player of the Year after the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.