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Wet start to hockey tourney in capital

- Rain washes off inaugural match

A close match between Bihar and Chhattisgarh in the national hockey tournament that began in Patna on Thursday was washed out by rain.

As the score at the end of the inaugural game of the 64th Senior National (East Zone) Hockey Championship was tied at 1-1, both teams got a point each.

But Bihar had the pleasure of drawing first blood when Alok Kumar scored the first goal of the match. A shot from the penalty corner in the fourth minute found its way into the Chhattisgarh goal.

Six minutes later, Chhattisgarh returned the favour. Mohammad Shad netted one from the penalty corner.

The players and the spectators could not, however, enjoy a full match as it was called off at the 36th minute. Both Bihar and Chhattisgarh still have a chance of qualifying into the semis. The other teams taking part in the tournament are Jharkhand, Odisha, Bengal and SAIL.

The inauguration of the tournament was held before the match. Bihar Military Police assistant director-general A.K. Upadhyay, who was the chief guest, met the players of both the teams.

“I was a sportsperson before joining the civil service. I still enjoy sports. I think more regional and national games should be held here to encourage sportspersons,” he said.

Asked about the problem of facilities and infrastructure in the state, Upadhayay said: “We cannot deny the lack of facilities. People in Bihar do not consider sports a good career option. They concentrate more on education.

“In recent times, however, there have been encouraging developments. For instance, Women’s Kabaddi World Cup was held in Patna recently. Such events will surely encourage budding sportspersons.”

The senior officer added that more national and regional sporting events should be held in the state.

Bihar Hockey Association general-secretary Yogesh Kumar said two teams would qualify for the Senior National Hockey Championship. “It is our privilege to host the eastern regional tournament. The last time Bihar hosted the championship was in 1984,” he said.

Jharkhand will face Chhattisgarh on Friday. Bihar’s next match is on Saturday.