Thursday, October 8, 2009

Under-18 Indian myth

s2h team

RECENTLY, Indian hockey came in the limelight, and not too surprisingly, it was because of an unfortunate reason - overage players!
To know what happened then and to get the latest on this front, s2h talked to the coach of the U-18 team, Ajay Kumar Bansal, till recently our Junior India coach.
Recollecting those phase of over-age finding mission, Bansal said, "On Hockey India’s call, almost 100 boys turned up for the U-18 trials at Bhopal. Out of 100, 53 were shortlisted and they were made to undergo a digital X-Ray of wrist in order to confirm their age. This method is accepted world over to determine the age"
Bansal and his fellow coaches were extremely upset when 48 out of 53 shortlisted boys were overage! Many of them were even in the legally marriageable age ie over 21. So the camp was temporarily called off and Hockey India announced fresh trials after 10 days.
In the next procedure, all the boys were told to bring their wrist X-ray along with them during trials. Almost 100 boys turned up again. On the basis of the X-ray films they brought, only 35 could qualify for the selection. And those 35 were again X-rayed, this time by Hockey India on their own, and again, 14 were 18-plus.
Thus, 21 boys now and the 5 from the first trials, 26 in total, are now undergoing camp at Bhopal under coach Bansal.
Bansal believes that stern steps should be taken to solve this problem of over age, which is present in almost every sport in India. He mentioned that that the digital X-ray technique was used for the first time in India and insisted now it should be made mandatory for all future age group compettiions and trainings.
“The biggest drawback, if overage players play at the junior level, will be that their career will be shortened and that will in turn, harm the Indian hockey. This is a big problem and we are happy we did something about it” said Bansal.
The team for the U-18 Asia Cup, which will be played at Myanmar in November, will be selected in a few weeks time. Interestingly, this tournament is being held for only the second time, that too after a gap of 8 years, and India are the defending champion!