The village which breathes, talks and lives hockeyLast updated on Dec 29, 2017, 03:36 pm
Jharkhand might be one of the most underdeveloped states which is constantly reeling under the constant threat of Maoist attacks. But there is a village in this poverty struck state, which has made a huge contribution to women's hockey in India.
In a country that breathes, talks and lives cricket, this tiny hamlet has produced over 55 national level women's hockey players.
Tiny tribal village
The only thing these girls want is to play hockey
Located 50 kilometers from Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, is Hesal, a tiny tribal village.
What makes this village special is that it is a nursery for women's hockey in India.
The hamlet has around 60 homes, where growing-up girls wield a hockey stick in their hands and aspire to play for the country.
A nursery for Hockey players in India
Since 1990, Hesal's girls, who spend their day working as labourers and farmhands, have opted to buy hockey sticks.
They train on empty stomachs with the dream of representing the country at the Olympics one day.
Poverty has forced them to take this step as they believe sports is the only way to get a job and end their poverty.
Tiny but making it big
This village has produced 5 international players
Hesal has produced 5 international woman players so far with Nikki Pradhan becoming the first Olympian when she represented India at the Rio Olympics.
She also represented India at this year's Asia Cup where India were triumphant over China.
What makes this even special is that most of these girls started playing with broken hockey kits and almost barefoot.
Crazy for hockey
Every girl breathes, talks and lives hockey here
All these girls come from poor families and live on the subsidised Rs. 1 rice sold by government.
Their parents cannot afford to make ends meet, let alone buy them shoes and hockey sticks.
After school, these ambitious girls hit the ground with their hockey sticks, most of them on empty stomachs as mid day meal is not provided to students above class 7.
Coach turns saviour
One teacher starts it all
Hockey craze was started by a school teacher Dasrath Mahto, back in 1989. He began coaching a few girls and continued for the next two decades. Soon hockey became the tradition of this tiny village.
From 1990 to his retirement in 2016, Dasrath Mahto has helped produced 72 national and international woman hockey players.
Lack of infrastructure
Despite providing 5 international stars they lack infrastructure
Despite the enthusiasm in the country's national sport, the village still lacks the basic infrastructure to promote the sport.
These young girls do not have playing fields and risk several injuries as they play barefoot. These injuries can easily hamper their development.
Will the government step up and help these girls realise their dreams?