• otv
Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

After the withdrawal of mighty sides like Australia, New Zealand and England from the FIH Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup 2021, which kicked off at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday, due to Covid related travel restrictions, greenhorn USA were immediately drafted in the mega tournament besides Canada and Poland.

Much to the excitement of the die-hard hockey fans of Odisha, the USA team will be represented by former Indian senior and junior team coach Harendra Singh and as many as five Indian-origin players Jatin Sharma, Mehtab Grewak, Gurcharan Johal, Amrinderpal Singh, and Shomik Chakraborty.

It must be mentioned here that under Harendra’s guidance, Indian colts won the 2016 Hockey World Cup. He was roped in by America as their chief coach earlier this year. The USA team management wants to cash in on his rich firsthand experience in Indian conditions and perform splendidly.

“It is an amazing experience to be part of the tournament. It was like a dream come true for all of us to get the opportunity to play in the tournament,” said US team player Jatin Sharma.

Sharma's father used to play hockey in India and then moved to US where he began coaching teams in California. His son picked up the sport subsequently and made it to the USA National team under his tutelage.

The other Indian-origin players hail from Washington DC, Arizona, and other towns in California. Shomik Chakraborty and Jatin Sharma have already featured for the Men's Senior team.

However, the entire World Cup campaign of USA has been funded through personal donations and fundraisers. The reason for this is that field or turf hockey is not that popular in America, unlike ice hockey.

“The field hockey does not get the attention and necessary funding required for it to progress. The senior team gets considerable funding but junior players have to rely on their families and donors to sustain foreign trips for tournaments,” said Chakraborty.

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