‘Extremely thrilled that a small town like Narwana has a new International-standard turf’

Mandeep Mor

Defender and drag-flicker Mandeep Mor who is from Narwana,a small town in the Ambala region, Jind district, Haryana State, is thrilled that his native now has a FIH-certified hockey pitch at the Navdeep Stadium, a popular hub for sports. Mor, who Captained the Indian Junior Men’s Hockey Team to a Silver Medal feat at the Sultan of Johor Cup 2019, believes this new turf will give players from this region the exposure of playing on turf from a very young age. He said, “I can’t express what this means to players from this region. A small village like ours has an international standard pitch is a very big occasion for players from here,” exclaimed Mor.

“People may find it strange that we are celebrating the opening of a new turf but for us this is huge because earlier, if we (players from Narwana) wished to play on turf, we had to travel all the way to Shahbad Markanda which is approximately 122 kms from Narwana and takes about 2 hours by bus. That was the nearest available turf for players from Narwana,” he said. 

Hockey India has over the years encouraged its State Member Units to install artificial pitches in their respective regions in order to grow the sport further. The emphasis has been on improving playing conditions and infrastructure in small towns in order to develop the sport and provide opportunities for youngsters to hone their skills in hockey. As a result of this proactive approach, India has become the second country in the world to have recorded the largest number of FIH Global category certified pitches. As per Hockey India records, India currently has 187 pitches out of which 38 of them are 5-a-side hockey/ practice pitches.  Haryana alone has 13 full-size pitches and 2 pitches for 5-a-side hockey/ practice pitches.  

Mor explained that this new development will ensure players don’t have to struggle when they transition from playing on grass to turf. “I started playing at the age of 14 on grass. The first time I ever played on turf was at the age of 16 when I moved to the Chandigarh Hockey Academy. At first, I found it difficult on turf because the ball moves much faster, controlling the ball and maneuvering was tough. It took me a while to get adjusted,” he admitted. 

Since the Navdeep Stadium opened up its gates for players to use the new turf, aspiring youngsters from near-by villages have been flocking to the newly-laid hockey pitch. “It’s been a few weeks since the turf was open to use. It is open to everyone (former players, current players etc) and the excitement is evident because many players are coming from nearby villages to play here but we all ensure we follow the social distancing norms and SOPs by Hockey India and the Government,” stated Mor. 

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