NEW DELHI: IT’S about 15 years since the last time a Tamil Nadu player donned the national jersey. In the last decade, players from the state have found the going tough when trying to break into even the age-group sides. As of now, there is only one national camper among all four teams (senior men’s, women’s, junior men’s and women’s) — S Karthi, a midfielder who is part of the core junior team.
To try and redress this anomaly, the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) has turned its eye towards modern fitness methods to help players compete at the national level. For starters, they selected the 18 for the All India-MCC Murugappa Gold Cup after putting all the probables through a yo-yo test. Even though the average across the board is four points below the national team (19 and 23), Sekar J Manoharan, president of HUTN, says it will improve. “We selected the entire 18 on merit,” he said.
“Even though there is a big gap between our yo-yo mark and the Indian benchmark, we will have incremental improvements.”
The team management have zeroed in on fitness as they think there is a yawning gap between their standard and the accepted benchmark. They also believe they have a strong group of boys coming through the system. Coach T Charles Dixon claimed that David John, when he was in the city, had suggested to him that they might pick four from HUTN into the core group. “In the end, not a single player made the journey,” Dixon rued.
Results: Indian Navy 3-2 HUTN; Bengaluru Hockey Association 4-2 Punjab National Bank. Friday’s matches: Railway Sports Promotion Board vs HUTN; Indian Air Force vs BHA; Central Secretariat vs Indian Navy.