In India sport is often considered as a commodity for the young, something that only dwindles as a fond memory once a student takes that leap of faith into the corporate world. Time flies, career flourishes, relationships strengthen but that tiny little sporting memory keeps providing every individual with that sense of achievement, that sense of jubilation like none other. And so people who have once been exposed to sport, cling onto it for the rest of their. Because it is that one thing that lets human emotions flow in the purest form, and no pure thing ever dies.
The UFH(United for Hockey) club was conceptualised by such individuals from the best public schools in India, namely The Doon school, Mayo College, The Scindia School and the Welham Boys’ School. The inaugural invitational cup will be providing the students from these schools the perfect opportunity to compete against the best in the country and get a flavour of how it is to play on astroturf.
And to add more spice to it, 2 alumni teams, comprising of players from all these 4 schools will also be competing for the top honour at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium.
The SportsRush caught up with the captains(Kunal Sharma and Nishant Sinha) of the two alumni teams to get a little piece of their mind regarding the event and their strategy for outwitting the younger(and probably fitter) generation.
Nishant is a Welham alumnus who currently runs a restaurant called ‘Beeryani'(in SDA market and GK 2) that satiates your lust for Beer and Biryani in a chic way. While his creativity is pretty evident from the way he has named his business, it is not limited to just that. Nishant is a very creative forward(in Hockey, of course) and has been so since 1995, when he last played for his school team.
When asked about what he felt about the UFH invitational, Nishant emphasised on the fact that they wanted this to be an annual affair where scouts could come in and recruit young kids to take up the sport professionally.
“It’s going to be a phenomenal event. This is the first effort to bring together players from these four schools, who generally don’t get a chance to compete against each other. Also, this would be the first time that many of these students actually play on an astro turf, something that will help them kick on to the next level”
Nishant was always upbeat about their chances of going deep into this tournament and said that they’ll make the student teams play to their pace.
“We realise that they are faster and maybe fitter than most of us. But we do know how to slow down the pace of the game to match our interests and maybe that would be the key to us winning against the students”
Kunal Sharma, the captain of the second Alumni team also spoke extremely highly of this initiative and was proud of the way everyone at UFH came together to envisage this idea of promoting Hockey amongst the masses. Kunal was at the helm of conceptualising the vision of UFH and this invitational tournament as well.
A Doon school alumnus, Kunal is currently working with a foundation that deals with climate change and clean energy. He plays at the centre half position and is regarded as a very creative playmaker. He feels that the UFH has the power to bring about a hockey revolution at the grass root level in India.
“It’s a fantastic concept and I am all for it. We have been managing UFH for the last 9 years and I absolutely love how things have panned out until now. This tournament should pave way for greater things for everyone involved”
“Students will be provided with probably their first experience of playing on astro turf, something that will help them grow leaps and bounds as hockey players.”
When asked about their chances for the tournament, Kunal made it very clear that they were playing to win, and win they will. He too recognised the possible difference in fitness levels of the alumni teams and the student teams but was quick to point out that the alumni teams had a lot of experience playing on the astro turf, something that could heavily work in their favour.
“We are here to win, that’s it. Also, the fact that we have played more on astro turf compensates for whatever fitness gap there might be. Skill wise we feel that we have the upper hand, now it’s just about displaying those skills on the pitch and coming out on top”
The organisers are chuffed about the preparations for the tournament and feel that the UFH invitational tournament could bring about the next wave of hockey at the school level at least. So much passion, so much preparation and so much heart; sky is the limit for the UFH invitational. Hop on, it’s going to be a great ride.