New Delhi, 19th Apr 2017: When 22 Indian players, have to seek the help of 1.3 billion countrymen to represent them in an international tournament, you realise why nothing apart from cricket flourishes in India. Indian Men’s Ice Hockey Team is doing just that. No government funding, no infrastructure, no mass media.
In spite of being a national team, the team yet again seeks public support for representing India in the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia for Men (Div 1) in Kuwait. Most of their equipment has been gifted by friends or well-wishers.
While the India sports enthusiasts are glued to cricket during IPL, the other sports seek attention including this talented team. With just few days to go for the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia, the team now has high hopes for the crowdfunding campaign to raise the required funds for them. Ice Hockey Association of India is requesting everyone to donate a small amount of money and help the team to compete with full vigour.
As Mr. Harjinder Singh, General Secretary of Ice Hockey Association of India puts it – “Participation is essential for the growth of the Sport. Few wins and we hope Government and Indian Sports enthusiasts will be taking note of this sport. Ice Hockey being the fastest contact team sport, this Winter Olympic Sport will soon become popular in India. What this sport needs is the attention of investors and it would be as popular in India, as NHL is in North America.
“We have had a fairly successful championship for Women Team at 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in Thailand (7th-15th March, 2017). For the very 1st time, the Women’s team won two international matches to secure 4th position amongst seven participants. Also, Ms. Tsewang Chuskit got the ‘Most Valuable Player Award’ in the Championship. We were able to perform well, as we were able to raise funds through crowd funding for Women this year and send the team to Kyrgyzstan for training prior to the Championship.”
Mr. Singh further added: “The team is looking for sponsorship opportunities. We request everyone to also share and spread the message so that this is brought to the notice of corporates looking to fund athletes under their CSR initiative.”
This year the Ice Hockey Association of India decided to train Indian Men’s team for the best results, in Kyrgyzstan for a month, in an international size rink before proceeding to the Men (Div-1) tournament in Kuwait. The team has been training hard for a couple of weeks and are quite hopeful of their chances in the upcoming tournament to be held between 22nd to 25th April, 2017. They wish to not only represent India but also come home with a podium finish.
Ice Hockey is an expensive sport. The Ice Hockey Association has accumulated an expense of around INR 26 lakhs for training in Kyrgyzstan. The team has already spent most of their personal funds on training well. Now, with just a week before the Kuwait tournament, they are falling short of INR 12 lakhs to participate in the tournament. They need this fund to pay for their travel tickets, visa, equipment and coach.
Indian Ice Hockey Team rides on the sheer will of 22 young Indian players from the Himalayan region of India. They invest their own money, their parents savings, the support of their well wishers, meagre sponsorships to proudly wear the Indian jersey in international arenas. And force the world to stand up and take note of India’s talent. And climb the ladder of ranking one tournament at a time.
The ONLY saving grace in this dismal scenario, has been the generosity of spirit of the common India public. Who has been contributing in crowd funding campaigns to keep the hopes of Indian Ice Hockey Teams alive. Again. And again. When you mention hockey in India, people think it is field hockey. When you say ‘ice hockey’, most people are not aware that it is played here. Moreover we have a team representing India at the international level.
In spite of all hardships, the team had managed to register their first international win against Macau in 2012, in Dehradun. They have been participating in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia since 2009 but it was the availability of India’s only international rink in Dehradun, which made the victory against Macau possible. The rink since 2012 has been lying shut but it did not deter the team to participate and keep their hopes alive while participating in the subsequent Asian Championships.