Hockey: Nagaland U-14 team lose to West Bengal in pre-quarterfinal
Kohima, Feb. 6 (EMN): Nagaland’s Under-14 boys team lost to West Bengal 3-0 in an enthralling encounter in the pre-quarterfinal match of the ongoing KD Singh Babu Memorial U-14 Hockey Tournament at Padma Shri Mohammad Shahid Synthetic Hockey Stadium in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday.
Nagaland team lost the first pre-quarter final match of the seven-day tournament to a dominant West Bengal after conceding goals in the first, third and fourth quarter. The tournament, which is played on knockout basis, started on Tuesday.
Officials of Nagaland team told Eastern Mirror over the phone from Lucknow on Thursday that the state team put up a spirited fight against the opponents on day-two of the tournament and performed well despite training only for few days.
Nagaland’s squad consists of 16 students from Loyola Higher Secondary School at Jakhama in Kohima. The coaches organised a 15-day coaching camp for the squad during the winter vacation due to time constraint, ahead of the tournament.
Despite losing the game, the players from Loyola Higher Secondary School, who played their first ever national match against West Bengal, seemed to have made the team manager and coach proud with their performance.
Team manager Thepfuzhü-o Mathew Viswentso told this newspaper that the boys created a couple of chances but failed to convert them to goals, adding that the defeat was due to lack of experience playing in astro-turf pitch.
Team coach Michael Kirha, a former international hockey player, said that the boys couldn’t practice after reaching the camp at Lucknow, as there is no hockey pitch near the camp. He added that they were taken straight to the venue for the game on the playing day by bus and were given only about 15-20 minutes to warm up before the match started.
“Even if we lost the game, we didn’t lose our hearts as it was their first time (playing in national level) and they really played well. We really appreciate their efforts,” Kirha said.
Most of the teams were said to be from reputed institutions and came well prepared while Nagaland team had only few days of coaching.
“We play on the gravel ground at Loyola and this is the first time the boys experienced playing on an international turf ground,” said Viswentso, who is also a former international hockey player. He added that different techniques are required in every playfield.
“We need to adapt to the surface of a field, so everything changes from hitting, stopping or pushing playing (sic),” Kirha stated.
He expressed optimism, saying that the boys played well despite losing the game. “Other teams coming from hockey academies were conceding even more goals than us,” he maintained.
Though it was necessary to change playing strategy, the team officials let the state players have a first-hand experience playing in an international hockey pitch and gain from it.
‘Everybody, being here for the first time from a far of place, all the players were given a chance to experience the game on an international turf ground,” Kirha said.
KD Singh Babu Memorial championship is an annual all India tournament organised in honour of legendary field hockey player KD Singh and to promote the game among the sub-juniors and nurture young hockey talents in the country.