The soil in Hesal, a tribal village in Jharkhand, produces more players than paddy. It is said so because since 1990, Hesal has produced many national and international hockey players.
Almost every girl here owns a hockey stick and dreams to be a part of the international team. On the strength of the game, they get a job that helps them to live a life free from poverty. This craze for the game started back in 1989 when Dasrath Mahto, a schoolteacher began coaching the village girls. He continued this for two decades till hockey became a traditional game in the village. Since 1990, the village has produced 55 national players in various age groups and 5 international woman hockey players. These girls come from extremely poor families. Their parents, mostly engaged in subsistence farming, are barely capable of providing them basic food, necessities. After attending school from 7AM- 2PM the girls practice hockey on an empty stomach as there is no provision of mid- day meal. These girls also work in the farms to support their passion for hockey. Despite being a glorious land that produced brilliant hockey players, the village has not received much support from the government.
By: Anuja Arora