Despite producing a number of international stars from the Northeastern region, hockey is yet to gain the expected momentum in the region. However, Hockey India’s officiating president Gyanendro Ningombam is quite optimistic and believes that India will see many more players rising out of the Northeast and shine for India in the future.
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In an exclusive interview with
EastMojo.com over an e-mail, officiating president Gyanendro Ningombam , the Hockey India president, who is from Manipur himself, spoke about a number of aspects regarding the game and the future plans of Hockey India for the development of the game in the Northeastern region.
Excerpts from the interview:
Q. What is your plan for the expansion of Hockey in the most remote areas of NE?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentHockey India has consistently put in efforts to support the State Member Units in the Northeast to grow the game of hockey in all parts of the region. We have provided equipment and encouraged the Member Units to coordinate with the State Governments for the construction of the necessary infrastructure. The State Member Units consistently encourage youngsters to take up the game of hockey in all regions of the Northeast.
Q. How can hockey gain the necessary popularity in NE?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentThough Football is certainly the number one sport in the Northeast, however, there are a lot of youngsters, who are enthusiastic about hockey too. We have seen a number of talented players coming from the Northeast, who have gone on to make our country proud at the highest level. We are ensuring that the infrastructure and good Coaching staff is available for the players in the Northeast, and they are taking advantage of this opportunity.
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Q. What is your plan for strengthening infrastructure for hockey in the region?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentWe are continuously & constantly looking to improve the game of hockey in all parts of India. Whether it’s constructing new pitches or improving the standard of Coaching and Umpiring, we are making efforts to ensure that hockey is evolving and moving forward everyday. There are currently two full-sized synthetics pitches constructed in Assam, Manipur and Mizoram respectively and more pitches are in discussion currently. We are encouraging the State Member Units to coordinate with their state governments to grow the infrastructure of hockey even further in the region.
Q. Despite producing a number of international stars from the region, why hockey is yet to gain the expected momentum in the NE?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentHockey is certainly gaining momentum in the Northeast. It’s going to be a gradual process. Many great players such as Pangambam Nilakomol Singh, Thoiba Singh, Chinglensana Singh Kangujam, Sushila Chanu, Anuradha Devi Thokchom, Lalremsiami and Kothajit Singh Khadangbam have inspired many youngsters to take up the game of hockey and we will certainly see many more players rising out of the Northeast in the future.
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Q. Coming to Assam, what are the immediate plans of Hockey India for the infrastructural development in the state?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentWe have been in continuous touch with Assam Hockey to support them for the construction of synthetics pitches and provide the necessary facilities and equipment. We are certainly hoping that the State Government will support our ambitious plans to construct more synthetics pitches in Assam in the upcoming years. There are two full-sized synthetics pitches in Assam at the moment, we are hoping to construct many more in the future.
From your point of view when will Indian Hockey regain its glory in the Olympics?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentThe Indian Men’s and Women’s Teams have improved tremendously in the last few years. They have competed well against top teams in the recent past which has certainly given them the belief that they can make history at the Tokyo Olympics. It has been great to know that they have started their preparations and I am certain that they will perform very well at the Olympics next year and regain their glory.
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Q. How did the pandemic affect Hockey as a whole in the region?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentI am happy to note that sports activities have resumed in the states of Assam and Manipur following the Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) recent guidelines. Hockey India provided a detailed SOPs and guidelines for the safe return of players and officials on the pitch. Hockey had come to a complete stop in the Northeast when the pandemic began in March, but now we are encouraging all Member Units to start sports activities with the necessary precautions in mind. The players have lost their touch, but are on their way back to full form by increasing their intensity with every sports activities session.
Q. What’s your plan to improve hockey in post-COVID India?
Gyanendro Ningombam, Hockey India officiating presidentIt’s very important to note that we have to take all the necessary precautions. All the safety measures have been put in place and all the State Member Units have been briefed about the best procedure to restart activities. Everyone who is involved in hockey has to follow the detailed SOPs and make sure that everyone around them is also taking all safety measures. Only then we can safely restart hockey throughout the country. We have make sure that our players and officials are carrying out their activities in a safe environment.
Earlier in the year, Gyanendro Ningombam was named as the new officiating president of Hockey India by its Executive Board in July.
Following the resignation of Mohd Mushtaaque Ahmad as the president of the Hockey India in July citing personal and family commitments, the Executive Board members held an Emergency Executive Board meeting and subsequently nominated and approved its senior vice-president Ningombam as the new officiating president, said an official statement.
Prior to this, Ningombam was associated with Manipur Hockey for several years been and had been instrumental in supporting talented players and the development of the sport at the grassroots level.
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