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Veteran hockey players delighted with synthetic turf in Tiruchi

G. Prasad

‘Academy should be set up to spot and nurture young talent'

— Photo:R.M.RAJARATHINAM

DOUBLE-DRIBBLE:Former Indian hockey team goalkeepers Leslie Fernandez, left, and Charles Cornelius on the hockey ground in Anna Stadium in Tiruchi.

TIRUCHI: Former Indian hockey team goalkeepers Charles Cornelius and Leslie Fernandez were excited about Tiruchi getting a synthetic hockey turf. On Sunday, the duo visited the hockey ground at the Anna Stadium complex where the synthetic turf is being laid. “To make it big in hockey, it is essential that players practice on the turf from a young age. The facility will be a boon for youngsters,” observed Mr. Cornelius, who was part of the bronze medal winning Indian hockey team at the 1972 Munich Olympics.

He stressed the need for the Sports Development Authority of Tamil Nadu (SDAT) to set up a hockey academy here.

“Creation of synthetic turf facility is important. Of higher importance is its utilisation. By setting up an academy, young talent can be spotted and nurtured,” felt Mr. Cornelius, who was also a member of the Indian team that won silver in the 1973 Amsterdam World Cup.

Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandez was happy that his hometown was getting such a facility. “This will be a big boost to hockey in Tiruchi and neighbouring districts. Playing on the synthetic turf is a different ball game as speed and strength matters more.”

Mr. Fernandez, who was part of the World Cup winning Indian team in 1975, felt that tournaments featuring top teams needed to be conducted on a regular basis to attract more youth towards hockey.

The veterans also had words of advice for budding hockey players. “Youngsters should concentrate more on their fitness. A player needs to be ultra-fit while playing on the synthetic turf. They should aim big and work hard to achieve their goals.”

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