New Astro turfs bring joy to hockey lovers in Kashmir

Former National level Hockey player of Kashmir, who is also NIS qualified coach JS Mehta said that Turfs are going to give a major boost to Hockey in the Kashmir region.
“The work is almost complete. It is fully modern turf with all the modern facilities available for Hockey players,” said a J&K Sports Council official.
“The work is almost complete. It is fully modern turf with all the modern facilities available for Hockey players,” said a J&K Sports Council official.Special arrangement

Srinagar: With two Artificial (Astro) Turfs nearing completion in Srinagar, the hockey sports discipline in Kashmir would receive a significant boost in the coming days.

Kashmir hockey players who have been yearning for a state-of-the-art modern hockey turf will soon have three options. While the turf in Pulwama is nearly finished, hockey fans are most excited about the two turfs in the centre of Srinagar.

The two new Hockey Astro turfs in Srinagar are nearly finished and will most likely be inaugurated within the next one or two months. One has been built at City Central Polo Ground, and the other at Amar Singh College in Gogji Bagh.

The Polo Ground turf, which is currently 95 percent complete, was constructed at an estimated cost of Rs 6.5 crore. It includes a Pavilion structure, seating, and high-end flood lights. With grass at the city’s central Polo Ground, the facility will be a big draw for both hockey players and fans.

“The work is almost complete. It is fully modern turf with all the modern facilities available for Hockey players,” said a J&K Sports Council official.

Divisional Sports Officer Kashmir Nuzhat Ara who is also a qualified Hockey Coach termed it a dream come true.

“I can’t explain my happiness to see this dream turning into a reality. Though it has come too late but at last it is happening. We have been craving for such a facility for years and multiple facilities are coming up now,” Nuzhat Ara said.

“Due to the lack of such a facility, our Hockey in Kashmir suffered a great deal. Now, we can hope that such facilities will revive Hockey in Kashmir,” she said.

Nuzhat Ara also said that Kashmir aso needs qualified Hockey coaches.

“Facilities are now coming up and we now need qualified coaches in our departments, sports council, colleges etc. I am retiring shortly and after that, we will not be having any coach in Council as well,” she added.

Former National level Hockey player of Kashmir, who is also NIS qualified coach JS Mehta said that Turfs are going to give a major boost to Hockey in the Kashmir region.

“This is what we always wanted. Hockey in the Kashmir region got on the back foot due to a lack of turfs. Now we are getting multiple Turfs which is like a dream come true for Hockey players like us,” said Mehta who is currently Physical Director Women’s College MA Road.

“At Polo Ground, Turf is been developed by J&K Sports Council which is almost complete with all the modern facilities. At Amar Singh College, turf is being developed by the Department of Youth Services and Sports which is likely to be completed by the end of April,” Mehta said.

Mehta who also runs Kashmir Hockey Academy is planning to hold events at both the turfs in the coming months.

“We are planning a major Hockey event in April on the turf. It is going to be a North Zone level Women’s tournament for which we will invite Railways, Bank team, Steel team as well as some outside University teams. It will be the first major Hockey tournament in Srinagar after decades,” he said.

Earlier Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had laid a foundation stone for the Hockey Astro Turf Stadium Government Boys Higher Secondary School, Pulwama in 2020. The turf was developed at the cost of Rs 5 crore.

The work on Polo Ground and Amar Singh College also started in 2020.

In the nineties, the first-ever Artificial hockey turf was planned in Srinagar, but due to the unprecedented situation in Kashmir, the turf was laid at Jammu. The move pushed back the Hockey sports discipline in Kashmir with valley players unable to compete with outside players due to a lack of facilities. They were unable to match skills developed on uneven grass fields with that developed on smooth modern fields. With time, many players left sports in Kashmir and it hit hockey badly in the region.

“There was a time when it was the Kashmir region that dominated Hockey sport in J&K. Then there came a time when we were finding it hard to have a single decent hockey player in the J&K squad. It wasn’t due to lack of talent, but due to lack of skill needed to play on artificial fast turf,” said a former player.

The sports fraternity has hailed the development of Hockey turfs in Kashmir with the hope that the National sport would get a major boost.

“Dream come true. A long bitter history. During the Late Hakoo Sahab period, GOI sanctioned Astroturf for this place but was fixed, laid at Jammu. Now that has been corrected after decades. A great step was taken by the Sports Council. Hockey players will love to play now,” said veteran Sports Journalist Sajid Hamid.

“Finally the astroturf for hockey is ready after so many years of false and unkept promises. Don’t remember how many hockey players and lovers passed away. For me, this dream was seen as childhood and at my ripe age, the dream come true when it was laid finally. Anyway thanks are due to all those who made it possible and l hope it will be taken due care by the concerned,” said Dr Altaf ur Rehman former Director Physical Education Islamia College.

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