The successful conduct of the One Team One Dream (OTOD)-organised 2nd Seniors Hockey Carnival (for 40 plus age group) at KSHA Stadium, Langford Town, Bengaluru was a great opportunity for former hockey internationals as well as ex-Olympians to ‘connect’ on the hockey pitch. The tournament that saw R2MI Kreeda and Kotak Mahindra extend their sponsorship help, attracted a battery of illustrious names, who have served Indian hockey with distinction across decades. The likes of former internationals and Olympians such as Dhanraj Pillay, Vokkaliga Raghunath, Len Aiyappa, Arjun Halappa, CS Poonacha, Bharat Chetri, Vickram Kanth, Sandeep Somesh, VS Vinaya, Ashish Ballal, AB Subbaiah, Nitin Thimmaiah as well as veterans such as Mukul Pandey and Ramesh Parameshwaran among a host of others made the 2nd Seniors Hockey Carnival a howling success.
More than the ‘competitive quotient’ the 2nd Seniors Hockey Carnival was all about these former players having a good time – the bonhomie among players and the excitement of rubbing shoulders with their team-mates of years ago was there for all to see – of course, all teams played to win! After two days of intense hockey, it was Coorg Gulf captained by Dhanraj Pillay, who emerged Level 1 champions, pipping United Thallasery Sports Club (UTSC), Dubai 2-0 in a keenly contest tie. Coorg Gulf received the winning trophy instituted in memory of former SAI coach Manohar Katke.
Bangalore Pirates clinched the Level II category, edging out Primrose Club 3-1 and was awarded the winning trophy instituted in memory of former Indian women’s hockey team captain Elvera Britto (who died recently). DD Sports Academy scraped past Josephites 4-2 to win the Level III category and received the winning trophy instituted in memory of former Indian forward Sandeep Michael.
The format of the tournament is also interesting. As many as nine teams took part in the two-day event – each team comprised 10 players, including one goalkeeper and one player-cum-manager. Each match was played for a total duration of 20 minutes, with a half-time break of 3 minutes at the end of 10 minutes. The organisers gave away cash prizes as well as individual trophies. Samir Coutinho of UTSC, Dubai was named the Best Player of the Tournament, while Imran Khan of DD Sports Academy was adjudged the Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament. A Special Award has given to Bangalore Pirates’ Dayalan.
OTOD has lined up plans to host such a Seniors Hockey Carnival in different cities such as Delhi, Chandigarh, Lucknow, and Hyderabad. “Our objective is to have this event once every three months,” says OTOD Secretary Leo Devadoss, the man who has been putting in the herculean efforts behind the scenes along with other OTOD members.
Former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay poured out his excitement of featuring in the 2nd Seniors Hockey Carnival. “It’s a great initiative by One Team One Dream (OTOD). This tournament is an enabler for players across decades to have fun on the hockey pitch – it’s wonderful to see players even from 50s, 60s, 70s, and beyond pick up their hockey stick.”
It may be worth recalling that One Team One Dream (OTOD) was formed in 2010, and comprises a group of die-hard hockey fans from all over the country and as well as from the UK, Malaysia, Finland, US, New Zealand, Canada, Australia, Belgium among others. In its avatar as a fan club of Indian hockey, OTOD members can be seen rooting for the Indian men and women teams at various international tournaments in India as well as abroad.