Jharkhand Olympic Association president RK Anand (centre) and Hockey Jharkhand chief Sudesh Mahto (second from right) felicitate Indian goalkeeper Bigan Soy in Ranchi on Sunday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
In a major deviation from mere lip service and tokenism, Hockey Jharkhand, for the first time, felicitated players from the state, who proved their mettle in national and international meets, with cash awards.
The function was held at Astroturf Hockey Stadium in Ranchi on Sunday, with the centre stage being occupied by Bigan Soy, Indian hockey’s iron lass and Jharkhand’s latest sport sensation.
The 20-year-old goalie played a huge part in the nail-biting minutes of India’s historic bronze win against England at the Hockey Junior World Cup 2013 in Mönchengladbach, Germany.
Hockey Jharkhand president Sudesh Mahto gave away Soy Rs 51,000 as cash prize for her feat.
Drawing a comparison between Indian cricket captain M.S. Dhoni and Soy, he said: “Dhoni made his debut in the Indian team as a wicketkeeper. We all know at what height he has taken our state’s name to on the global stage by leading the nation to World Cup victory. Similarly, Soy started as a goalkeeper and was instrumental in the national team’s World Cup win.”
Mahto added, “We all should see this as a new beginning for hockey in Jharkhand.”
Assuring the association’s full co-operation, Mahto told the players: “I urge all of you to only focus on your game, rest all will be taken care of by us.”
Hockey Jharkhand also gave away Rs 2.20 lakh to state players and coaches for their excellent performances in sub-junior, junior and national-level tournaments.
The sub-junior national team — both male and female — were awarded Rs 50,000 for winning silver and bronze respectively during an event in Assam.
The junior and senior women’s teams were also awarded Rs 50,000 each for bagging the 3rd position in junior nationals in Ranchi and a competition in Lucknow respectively.
This apart, two female coaches — Phulgaria Nag and S.K. Mohanty of Sports Authority of India — were given Rs 10,000 each
Olympians Sylvanus Dungdung and Manohar Topno and former Indian captain and Hockey Jharkhand general secretary Savitri Purti told the promising players to work harder and bring home more laurels. Apart from them, renowned players like Sumrai Teke, Sushila Lakra and Anima Minz were also present at the ceremony.
According to Dungdung, there was a time during 60s and 70s when only Punjab players dominated the hockey field. But post-70s, players from the eastern part of the country started making an impact in the national teams.
“That tradition still exists as both male and female national teams have seen an influx of players from Jharkhand. But ironically, whoever excelled, did it on his/her own. It’s high time that both government and association do their precious little to uplift the condition of the game and players in the state,” Dungdung added.
When asked what prompted this sudden gesture from the state association, Hockey Jharkhand president Mahto said the felicitation was done to instil fresh energy and confidence among the players.