Domestic Hockey Spotlight
Bengaluru-based Army Boys Sports Company are in seventh heaven after cornering glory in the 2nd Hockey India Sub-Junior Men Academy National Championship at the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium in Ghumanhera on the outskirts of New Delhi. The Army boys brought their grit and tenacity to the fore, getting the better of Olympian Vivek Singh Hockey Academy in a shootout after both teams were tied goalless in regulation time. Goalkeeper Satish Kumar performed a heroic act in the shootout for Army Boys Sports Company, pulling off three crucial saves to help his side win the national crown.
Interestingly, Army Boys Sports Company had also won their semifinal against Roundglass Punjab Hockey Club Academy in a shootout after both teams were tied 2-2 in normal time. The Army lads had to count on a late Daya Ram goal to stretch the match into a shootout, where Satish Kumar came to the party. The 16-year-old goalkeeper from Haryana has been instrumental in Army Boys Sports Company winning their semifinal and final via the shootout route. Earlier, the Olympian Vivek Singh Hockey Academy had ousted reigning champions Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy in the semifinals by a solitary goal.
The KB Thammaiah-coached Army Boys Sports Company outfit had disposed off last year’s runners-up Odisha Naval Tata Hockey High Performance Centre 4-0 in the quarterfinal. Placed in Pool G, the Army lads started their campaign with a hard-fought 3-2 win over SAI Academy. The Army boys subsequently thrashed Republican Sports Club 13-1 and wrapped up thier pool phase with a 3-0 win over Ghumanhera Riser’s Academy 3-0. Army Boys Sports Company scored 25 goals from five games and was well served by the likes Sachin, Nitesh Sharma, Harpal, Daya Ram, Ankit, and skipper Ankush. “My boys really worked hard for this tournament – we devoted special sessions on preparing for shootouts where we indentified the guys who would take the shootout. Goalkeeper Satish was adequately prepared as well and it helped winning our semifinal and final,” says Army Boys Sports Companycoach KB Thammaiah in a chat with Hockey Passion.
Thammaiah, a former national-level player, who was part of Karnataka’s bronze-winning team at the 2013 Senior Nationals, shares his perspective on why the team needed to dig deep in their semifinal clash against Roundglass Punjab Hockey Club Academy. “Look, the semifinal was played under lights and my boys were not accustomed to playing under lights. My boys used to train in day sessions but playing under lights and spotting the ball under lights did not come naturally to them. No excuses but playing under lights did affect our game plans,” he makes his point.
Army Boys Sports Company did not feature in the inaugural Hockey India Sub-Junior Men Academy National Championship held last year.