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Anantapur Hockey League: Taking hockey to every home!

Girls playing hockey in Anantapur
Author: Ernest Abhishek
Copyrights: Anantapur Sports Academy

Anantapur Hockey League: Taking hockey to every home!

Anantapur Sports Academy on bringing grassroots hockey to underprivileged children in India.

Anantapur Sports Academy (ASA), through community sports leagues, advocates on the right to play, gender equality and skill development.

The 12th season of the Anantapur Hockey League (AHL) was held in Anantapur from December 2019 to February 2020. AHL is a grassroots level hockey league started in the year 2007 by Anantapur Sports Academy with an objective to increase sporting culture by engaging children from schools and communities spread across the Anantapur District.

With the AHL a number of children from underprivileged and rural backgrounds got an opportunity to showcase their talents from the past 12 years, and the best of them got the opportunity to train at Anantapur Sports Village, a residential sports academy run by ASA. 

In the 2019 - 20 edition, 546 children (210 girls) from 39 teams (24 boys and 15 girls) played 115 matches in the league, held in three phases. All the players are provided with necessary equipment such as hockey sticks, balls, shoes and jerseys. From the past 12 seasons, the participation of girls had increased gradually and has come a long way compared to the 2007 edition when the league made its debut. This was a result of ASA’s efforts in creating access to safe playing spaces for girls and boys at the grassroots level by creating facilities such as grassroots centres and development centres in rural villages, giving them a place to practise together every day thereby decreasing the gap and building confidence in parents and the children. 

To increase the quality of AHL, ASA trained 40 (11 female) youth in refereeing and coaching, empowering individuals and their communities. “It is a great learning opportunity for me to referee AHL matches. I was excited to see young girls from villages come out and play. I, as a girl who came from similar circumstances, faced a number of challenges in my initial days of playing hockey, and these young girls face them too. It is inspiring to see these girls overcome all the obstacles and I’m happy to be in a place to help them,” said Sneha Latha, a youth leader and senior hockey player at ASA who refereed in AHL. 

Talking about the league, Vamshi Origanti, Grassroots Coordinator of Anantapur Sports Academy said, “As we see, year by year the quality of the game is improving along with the growing support from the local stakeholders which is very encouraging. AHL is creating a platform for children from a rural community to showcase their skills and build healthy competition and values such as team spirit, respect from a very young age. Especially girls coming out to play is a sign that we are making progress in achieving one of our goals, which is to create equal opportunities for both boys are girls to play sport.” 

After seeing the growing support for the Mixed Gender Football Cup among the rural communities, this year for the first time ASA is hosting an U12 mixed-gender 6-a-side hockey tournament for the girls and boys from grassroots centres spread across Anantapur District with a strong belief that it promotes inclusion, respect and breaks the gender barriers among children in the rural communities from a very young age.

Visit the Anantapur Sports Academy website for more information.

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Saturday, February 22, 2020 - 05:51