Willingdon gives rink hockey a makeover

Updated: Feb 06, 2020, 08:00 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

A brainchild of WCG's outdoor sports secretary and Olympian Joaquim Carvalho, the new version has received a thumbs-up from players.

Action from the ongoing WCG rink hockey tourney in Santacruz
Action from the ongoing WCG rink hockey tourney in Santacruz

Rink hockey has always held a special place in the hearts of Mumbai's hockey aficionados. And the skillful, fast-paced, five-a-side version has been a primary breeding ground for many city lads, who have gone on to excel in India colours. However, the shorter format just got faster and more exciting with the Willingdon Catholic Gymkhana (WCG) introducing some of the rules from the FIH-backed Hockey 5s.

Earlier, just like field hockey, even in the rink version, players could only score from inside the striking circle. But at the ongoing WCG-organised 39th Victor D'Mello Memorial Invitational rink hockey tournament being played at the Gymkhana's tennis courts in Santacruz, a player can score from anywhere on the pitch as long as the ball is played along the ground, which is similar to how it goes in Hockey 5s.

A brainchild of WCG's outdoor sports secretary and Olympian Joaquim Carvalho, the new version has received a thumbs-up from players.

Former India defender V Raghunath felt this is the future of the game's short version. "We have been conducting the five-a-side nationals for the last two years in Bangalore similarly. It's exciting for the fans because you see more goals," Raghunath, who helped Indian Oil rally from 0-4 down to beat India Rush 8-6 in a knockout match on Wednesday, told mid-day.

Former India hockey players  V Raghunath and Devesh Chauhan at the WCG rink hockey yesterday Former India hockey players V Raghunath and Devesh Chauhan at the WCG rink hockey yesterday

Former India goalkeeper Devesh Chauhan said it's great for goalkeepers to excel. "Since a goal can be scored from anywhere, the goalkeeper has to be on his toes throughout and we 'keepers thrive on that responsibility," said Chauhan.

Another former India custodian, Adrian D'Souza excelled under the bar as his team Uncle's Kitchen United beat a skillful Coorg XI 5-4 in a toughie. "One moment, I'm down, then I have to suddenly spring back up on my feet. It's fun. I like it," said Adrian.

Olympian Gavin Ferreira however, felt that things could get a bit dangerous for inexperienced players. "Given the long, fierce pushes, any deflection anywhere, can hit a player at any time, leading to injury. But having said that, as a player, it's your job to always watch the ball," said Ferreira, who helped Hockey Navi Mumbai beat Kalina Veterans 3-2 yesterday.

Dronacharya Award-winning coach Marzban 'Bawa' Patel also welcomed the rule change. "This is hockey's version of T20 and any rule change which entertains the crowd, is welcome," said Patel, whose spirited Bombay Republicans lads were ousted 4-6 by Central Bank.

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