Bhubaneswar:  Odisha known for its passion for hockey, has set up 22 new Hockey Training Centres (HTCs) for development of hockey at grassroots.

The HTCs have been set up by the Department of Sports and Youth Services (DSYS) in partnership with Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre (HPC) with the aim to nurture a large spectrum of hockey talent from the State and provide an early exposure to synthetic turfs.

The active turfs have made functional at Bonoi, Tangarpalli, Bargaon, Bisra, Lahunipada, Lathikata, Lephripada, Subdega, Balisankara-Tileikani, Balisankara-Sonamara, Nuagaon, Kutra, Gurundia, Kuarmunda, and Kukuda in Sundargarh district, Jajpur town in Jajpur district, Jujumura in Sambalpur, and Chattrapur in Ganjam. Four more such centres are also set to be operational soon, Sport Department officials said.

Currently, about 1300 kids are training on the synthetic turfs in the 19 hockey training centres. Each HTC has two coaches engaged in this development program.

During his recent visit to Sundargarh, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had emphasized the importance of sports development in the region. He expressed his vision to nurture a wide range of sports talents from the district and nearby regions.

The projects launched during his visit were aimed at achieving the goal by providing better infrastructure, training facilities, and opportunities for the youth interested in sports. In line with this vision DSYS has ensured that the HTCs are well-equipped with required training equipment, conditioning items, and first aid requirements that will enable holistic development of Hockey from Grassroots to elite.

The HTCs have deployed well-trained coaches who are experts in grassroot development and have undergone training with David John, Director of Hockey for Odisha. DSYS, along with Odisha Naval Tata High Performance Centre (ONTHHPC), have been pivotal in training local junior coaches to train young champions from various districts of Odisha.

David John, Director of Hockey for Odisha, stated that in the next few months, when all the centres will be operational, club level championships will be conducted every weekend.

Such championships are quite active in countries like the US, Australia, and the UK, and have been successful in engaging talents and here too at the HTCs kids will benefit from this initiative, he said.

Rajiv Seth, the project director of the Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High-Performance Centre (ONTH-HPC), said they will provide coaches and processes at the HTCs across Odisha to expose young children to synthetic turf from an early age and facilitate their smooth transition to higher-level hockey.

The HPC has created a coaching education pathway for all its grassroots coaches and supports them with several workshops and exposure tours, he said.

The HTC initiative showcases the HPC’s dedication to advancing the sport and cultivating budding hockey players.

The Odisha Sports Department is engaging schools, communities, and district/zilla parishads for maximum participation. The team is also inviting schools in urban areas to engage their teams for hockey training and development. The objective is to ensure the HTCs are functional and are very well utilised by the local kids from the nearby vicinity.