School teams from Odisha and Haryana battle it out at Ranchi’s Astroturf stadium on Sunday. (Hardeep Singh)
The blue lines are drawn, the gloves are off and it’s time for Ranchi to roar hurrah twice.
The capital has a power-packed week ahead with all-India school games and a national bout championship scheduled for the first time in Jharkhand.
While the 59th National School Hockey (Under-14 boys and girls) hit floors across three venues on Sunday, the 62nd All India Wrestling Cluster Championship-2013 will set the ring on fire at Jaipal Singh Munda Mega Sports Complex in Hotwar from Monday.
The former is being organised by the School Games Federation of India and the latter by All India Police Sports Control Board. Both high-octane events — one of them promising a galaxy of stars like Arjuna Award-winning wrestler Akhil Kumar, international boxer S. Suresh, Jharkhand’s pugilistic pride Aruna Mishra and Commonwealth gold medallist Dharmendra Dalal — will conclude on Friday, the 13th of December.
The hockey tourney kicked off without a formal ceremony and so will the police wrestling meet on Monday because of the five-day national mourning announced in the wake of civil rights icon Nelson Mandela’s demise.
On enthusiasm, however, there is absolutely no bar, especially when entry is free.
State sports director Dadan Choubey said 22 boys’ and 23 girls’ teams from various schools across India were participating in the national meet. While the lads will play a total of 30 league matches, the eves will prove their mettle in 33. The leagues are expected to be over by December 10 following which quarters, semis and the final will be held.
The ties are being played at Astroturf Hockey Stadium and Birsa Munda Football Stadium in Morabadi, Bariatu Girls’ High School and St Joseph’s High School in Hulhundu.
Meet co-ordinator Jagan Topno said 21 league matches were scheduled on Sunday alone. “Except at St Joseph’s, the ties were played at all venues simultaneously,” Topno said.
For the cluster wrestling, additional director-general of JAP Kamal Nayan Choubey said 30 teams from state and central security forces had arrived in Ranchi. A few more are expected before the flag off.
The competition will have five disciplines — wrestling, boxing, weightlifting, judo and gymnastics. “The events will see 1,450 athletes and 200 delegates. It is a matter of pride for us to get a chance to host the games,” Choubey said.
He added that since there would be no formal opening ceremony, they had decided to bring forward events by a day. “From 9am tomorrow, we will begin weightlifting, wrestling and boxing. Judo will be conducted from December 11 forenoon after wrestling events end.”