Bengaluru to become hockey hub

Bengaluru to become hockey hub

After a prolonged delay, the Sports Authority of India, South Centre, here will finally get two hockey pitches play-ready by September end with plans of converting the facility into a major training centre for the men’s team.

A green pitch, costing Rs 5.71 crore, will be ready by the end of this month, while a blue pitch -- same as the one that will be used at the Rio Olympics next year -- will be completed by the end of September.

Apart from laying of the state-of-the-art blue pitch, SAI will also construct change rooms, install 600 lux floodlights and provide space for two video towers. This project is estimated to cost Rs 8.6 crore.

“This is the beginning,” said Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal after laying the foundation stone for the project on Thursday. “We have many schemes to be implemented. This blue turf will be the same turf that will be used at the Rio Olympics. This has been done to make our players feel comfortable and familiar with the surface.
“Once this has been done, our intention is to keep the players here so that they can prepare well. Bengaluru is a good place to train all year round, thanks to the weather. I’ve heard the players like it here as well.”

It may be recalled that one of the major demands of former coach Michael Nobbs and current High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans was to make Bengaluru as a permanent training centre. While they trained largely here from mid-2010 despite the pitch being below par, they moved to facilities across the country around two years ago after plenty of players suffered injuries during training.

With both the pitches set to be ready by September end, this should come as good news for the hockey players and staff. Meanwhile, plenty of elite Karnataka athletes -- past and present -- and administrators attended the afternoon function. Badminton legend Prakash Padukone, former National badminton coach Vimal Kumar, long-jumper Anju Bobby George, former hockey player Ashish Ballal, paralympian HN Girisha, current high jump national record holder Sahana Kumari, heptathlete Pramila Aiyappa and India hockey defender VR Raghunath were some of the few in attendance.

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