Hockey player bears hardship in absence of state support

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Shimla, Jan 13(ANI): Ashok Kumar, who represented the national junior side just less than a decade ago, is fending for himself by running a wayside eatery at Baluganj in Himachal Pradesh's Shimla district.

His pathetic state reflects life of the hockey players that the game is not all that lucrative.

Kumar, now in his late 20s, is an instance depicting the government's apathy towards the sport, which ironically is the national game of India.

Facing financial constraints on the domestic front, he hardly finds time to play the game. However, he uses his free time to practice out of his sheer love for the game.

"Of course, when I started playing I nurtured a dream to play for the national team one day. I had a purpose that I should get a chance to play for the senior Indian team, no matter how. Every player has a dream to scale those heights but in sheer absence of facilities scores of talented men fail to achieve what they deserve even after showing their talent at different platforms," Kumar said.

He represented the country in 2001 in the World Junior School Games when the Indian team brought home the gold medal, beating Uzbekistan.

For nearly a decade, Kumar had been representing the state in various tourneys.

As for the government's apathetic attitude towards game, which Kumar pointed out, the officials contended there are several provisions to help talented players like him.

The District Sports Officer of Shimla said that it would organise state level hockey matches for the benefit of the players on the newly laid astrotrurf.

"For sportspersons, under the scheme of the Himachal Pradesh government, there is a three percent quota for jobs in the state departments and corporations. Nearly a hundred young players have benefited from this. And if the outstanding player, we are discussing about (Ashok Kumar), falls in the domain of this provision, he can apply in any department and corporation and he is eligible to get a job there, as the provision indicates," said G. R. Azad, District Sports Officer, Shimla. (ANI)

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