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Chandigarh

Posted at: Jun 12, 2018, 2:36 AM; last updated: Jun 12, 2018, 2:36 AM (IST)

City kids have fun as hockey, skating roll into one

Deepankar Sharda

tribune news service

Chandigarh, june 11

At 3 am, a time when most are lost in their dream worlds, the city’s young skaters are out on the roads, making full use of the long stretches of smooth tarmac.

It is not that the city lacks proper infrastructure for skaters, but the youngsters’ desire to skate on long, clear stretches, pushes them to take to the roads in the wee hours.

“We skate around two hours in the morning and also train for around three hours in the evening,” said Sahil Verma, a 15-year-old skater.

“We practice on the road in the mornings thrice a week. For which, first we have to identify a smooth stretch of road.” 

In recent times, skating has gained popularity among the youngsters. And many skaters have also started playing roller hockey. Roller hockey, also known as hardball hockey, is played on a rink of 40m x 20m, same as a handball court. It is played both indoors and outdoors and has similar rules as ice-hockey. 

While the sport is more popular in Haryana, its following has also increased in Chandigarh and Punjab over the last three years. Experts say that roller skating gained popularity in the city after 2000, when the wooden skating rink of Sector 10 was converted into a hard-surfaced one. That’s when roller hockey came into the picture and started spreading across schools. In 2015, the UT Sports Department included the sport in its gradation policy, on the basis of mass participation.

“Haryana has won the maximum number of National Championships, while Chandigarh comes in at second,” said Sandeep Goel, joint secretary, Haryana Roller Skating Association. 

“It’s been nearly 20 years since the sport was included in the gradation policy by Haryana. The players get scholarships. While the sport has become popular in Chandigarh over the last three-four years, the players still opt to play for Haryana,” added Goel. 

“In the region, the trainees in tricity have a big advantage. At the IT Park in Mani Majra, the trainees can work on the speed. In the evening, they take to the court to develop their skills.”

Sushant Pandoria, a skater, said the sport required a high fitness level. “In both inline and quads, one has to maintain a high fitness level. A skater should be swift 

but also be able to control his speed on the court,” said Pandoria.

Chander Singhal, a coach in the Panchkula district, said his academy had over 500 registered skaters — the maximum number of trainees in the tricity. “There has been an increase in the number of skaters. They also play roller hockey, which helps them get scholarships,” Singhal said. 

Meanwhile Jaswinder Singh, national selector and joint secretary of the Chandigarh Roller Skating Association, said over 300 skaters regularly train in the city. “The city will host the sub-junior and junior Asian Games camps. While we organise two championships in a year, the local sports department has shown keen interest in promoting the sport,” said Jaswinder. 

Even during the summer vacations, the coaching centres are full with trainees. The parents are also showing interest. “After roller skating and hockey were included in the gradation policy, the international players from the city have become eligible for prize money. The step has come as a boost for the skaters,” said Jaswinder. 

However, roller hockey has no takers at the senior level, because there are no jobs. And skating is not easy on the pocket. A regular kit costs between Rs 6,000 to Rs 8,000, while a professional kit could go up to Rs 20,000. “It’s not a pocket-friendly sport. But still, it is getting popular,” said Goel.

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