Kovilpatti and its love for hockey

Of the 18-member Tamil Nadu squad competing in the Junior National men’s hockey championship, nine players hail from Kovilpatti, including team captain Nishi Deva Arul.

Making Kovilpatti proud: K. Muthukumar (from left), Nanthakumar, R. Kaviarasan, R. Manoj Kumar, R. Dhivaker, P. Murugesh, S. Aravind Kumar, M. Dhilipan, R. Nishi Deva Arul, with coach N. Muthukumar.   -  Special Arrangement

Kovilpatti fits the description of a hockey-crazy town to a T.

The six gravel grounds — VOC Govt. HSS, Pandavarmangalam, Koosalipatti, Illupaiurani, K.R. College, Thittankulam — an SDAT-artificial turf in Krishna Nagar and the 12 hockey clubs testify to this. Also, State-level tournaments generally attract good crowds.

Fittingly, the industrial town has readied the next generation of players who will represent Tamil Nadu, and hopefully the country, in the years to come.

Of the 18-member Tamil Nadu squad competing in the ongoing Junior National men’s hockey championship here, nine players hail from Kovilpatti, including team captain Nishi Deva Arul.

“What I like about these players from Kovilpatti is that their basics are good and fitness levels are more than average,” chairman of selectors of the Tamil Nadu State sub-junior, junior and senior teams, Olympian Thirumalvalavan told Sportstar here on Thursday.

READ: Kovilpatti to host Junior National men’s hockey championship from December 16

Interestingly, eight of the nine players have been accommodated at the Sports Hostel of Excellence (SHE) situated next to the SDAT-artificial turf, where the Nationals is being played.

Captain Arul said: “What cricket is to Chennai hockey is to Kovilpatti. We have grown up listening to stories of our seniors’ exploits,” he said.

Goalkeeper R. Dhivakar said he was enjoying the facilities SHE has to offer. “There’s a good gym and we can play on the turf whenever possible.”

About their ambition, the reply is in chorus: “We want to win a medal here and be part of the Indian junior team sooner rather than later.”

Tamil Nadu head coach N. Muthukumar said the best indication of hockey’s popularity in Kovilpatti was the scene at the selection trials to SHE here.

“At other sports hostels across TN, 40-50 students attend the trials, but here around 200 take part,” he said.

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