Hockey India, the apex body for the sport in the country, has announced a ground-breaking initiative aimed at investing in the future of Indian hockey through specialized coaching targeting young drag-flickers and goalkeepers across the nation. This strategic decision follows a pivotal meeting convened to discuss the crucial aspects of goalkeeping and drag-flicking coaching at the grassroots level. The meeting saw the participation of eminent former India goalkeepers including Adrian D'Souza, Bharat Chetri, Yogita Bali, Helen Mary, Dipika Murty, Akash Chikte, PT Rao, along with illustrious former India drag-flickers Rupinder Pal Singh, Jugraj Singh, VR Raghunath, and Gurjinder Singh, as per Hockey India press release. Hockey India Names 28 Core Probables for National Men’s Coaching Camp for Paris Olympic Games 2024 Preparation.

The officials of Hockey India, including President Dilip Tirkey, secretary general Bhola Nath Singh, treasurer Sekar Manoharan, and High-Performance Director Herman Kruis, also lent their insights to the deliberations, joining the meeting virtually.

The new initiative places paramount emphasis on nurturing talent at the grassroots level, with a focused approach towards identifying and honing gifted players in the pivotal positions of drag-flickers and goalkeepers. By fostering a nurturing environment from an early age, Hockey India aims to fortify the talent pipeline for the nation's prestigious hockey teams.

Key highlights of the programme include:

Formation of talent pool: Hockey India will assemble a dedicated pool of former goalkeepers and drag-flickers. These seasoned athletes will be deployed to premier national academies across India to conduct intensive 3-day training sessions.

Identification and specialized training: Following the training sessions, the former players will meticulously identify young talents exhibiting exceptional promise. These identified athletes will receive specialized attention and training from Hockey India, tailored to enhance their skills and nurture their potential.

Support and compensation: Recognizing the invaluable contribution of the former players, Hockey India will provide compensation for their time and efforts. Additionally, the organization will extend support to cover any incidental expenses, including accommodation and travel arrangements.

Speaking on the initiative, Rupinder Pal Singh said, "This initiative is truly remarkable, providing young talents with invaluable learning opportunities as they glean insights and refine their skills under our guidance. Moreover, it presents a wonderful chance for us to pass down the wisdom accumulated through years of experience, nurturing the next generation of hockey stars and fostering a culture of mentorship and growth."

Helen Mary said this initiative marks a significant step forward in goalkeeper development and for nurturing future drag-flickers. It's particularly beneficial for aspiring grassroots goalkeepers and players of all genders. The pathway from sub-juniors to juniors and ultimately the national team is now clearer, sparking excitement among coaches to witness the progress of all age groups. This promises to be a promising journey ahead.

Meanwhile, Bharat Chetri also expressed his thoughts on the move by Hockey India.

"As a former India goalkeeper, I applaud Hockey India for spearheading this transformative initiative. Investing in grassroots development is pivotal for the long-term success of Indian hockey. By focusing on crucial positions like goalkeeping from the grassroots level, Hockey India is laying a sturdy foundation for our national teams." Mental Conditioning Coach Paddy Upton to Help Indian Men's Hockey Team in Paris Olympics 2024.

"This programme not only nurtures talent but also instils a sense of pride and passion for the sport among youngsters, ensuring a steady supply of skilled players for years to come. I believe this initiative will be instrumental in shaping the future of Indian hockey and elevating our teams to greater heights on the global stage."

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