Hockey Brings Hope of a New Future for Players from Andaman and Nicobar Island

The 13th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2023 Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh is underway and the teams that made it to the final eight are Hockey Jharkhand, Hockey Punjab, Hockey Haryana, Hockey Bengal, Hockey Association of Odisha, Hockey Maharashtra, Hockey Madhya Pradesh and Hockey Karnataka. Players from Hockey Andaman and Nicobar may be going home, but they’re more motivated than ever to return next year as a stronger team.

Despite facing tough competition from Hockey Maharashtra, Hockey unit of Tamil Nadu, and Le Puducherry Hockey in pool H, the players from the Islanders, who are only participating for the second time in this prestigious National Championship, were able to gain valuable experiences from the event, which was held to international standards. Hockey Andaman & Nicobar made their first-ever appearance at the 11th Hockey India Senior Women National Championship 2021, which took place in Jhansi, Uttar Pradesh, last year.

21-year-old Neelam Binita Kujjur expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to play in the National Championships despite coming from a difficult background in Andaman and Nicobar Island, where her parents work as daily wagers. She dropped out of school to ensure that her younger sister could receive an education, and currently works part-time as a store cashier in Port Blair to support her family. She believes that participating in these Nationals will enable her to exhibit her talent and also help her get a permanent job that can better support her family.

The team consisted primarily of players from various small villages across Andaman Island, such as Diglipur, Mayabundr, Hutbay, Baratang, Bambooflat, and Ferrargung, who trained at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Velodrome Hockey Arena in Port Blair.

Sashita Bhengra, a saleswoman at a new mall in Andaman, has set her goals high and chosen hockey as a means of achieving them. Her father used to play for Hockey Jharkhand and represented them in the National Championships as well, but is now a daily wage laborer supporting his family of four as best he can. Sashita plans to fulfill her father’s dream of playing hockey at the highest level and, in doing so, earning enough to support her family. She believes that there is a lot of opportunity in the country for hockey, with players who perform well at the domestic level also able to find good jobs.

Naw Madhu Prith Decosta, the 26-year-old Captain, expressed her team’s resolute spirit and eagerness to take their game to the next level. Decosta believes that despite not winning the games, her team won many hearts with their performance, and she is confident that in the coming years, they will perform better at the National Championships. She concluded that Hockey India’s increased focus on smaller teams like theirs from Union Territories will only aid in the growth of the sport in the island, with more children taking an interest in it.

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