Aligarh: Former hockey Olympian and centre-half Ajeet Pal Singh has said that if India wishes to restore its past glory in the sport then it would have to make youngsters play on astroturf from beginning of their career.
"If talent has to be nurtured at the school and university level then it is necessary that the youngsters should be given the opportunity of playing on astroturf grounds at an early stage," Singh said while addressing the inaugural ceremony of the All
India Inter University Hockey Tournament (North Zone) last evening at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).
"If we are not able to provide astroturf to a youngsters then it would be unfair to expect them to turn out to be world beaters at a later stage," he added.
Singh lauded the efforts of the AMU and the Punjab University for nurturing hockey talent in the past. He said that both the universities has served as a cradle for nurturing hockey talent in the country.
He said these were the only two universities in the country which have the facility of astroturf hockey fields and could now play a vital role producing hockey champions.
"If we wish to rise in world hockey then merely appointing foreign coaches is not going to be enough," Singh said.
He said that he was ready to help AMU in establishing a hockey academy as mooted earlier by the Vice-Chancellor Lt Gen (retd) Zameer Uddin Shah.
Speaking on the occasion former Indian hockey captain Zafar Iqbal, who is an alumnus of AMU, appreciated Singh describing him as one of the greatest centre halves which India had ever produced.
"The best players from arch opponents from Pakistan use to treat him with utmost respect and reverence and address him as they would to a maestro," Iqbal said.
He assured the AMU V-C that they would fully cooperate in the proposed project of establishing a hockey academy at the university.