Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], April 17 (ANI): With just a week left for the much-anticipated Khelo India University Games, the excitement in the hockey circles is palpable as the top eight teams gear up for the action which gets underway here at the Field Marshal KM Cariappa Hockey Stadium.
Former India hockey star VR Raghunath believes this is a great platform for aspiring hockey players, particularly those within the Under-21 age group to showcase their talent and get recognized. "I feel this is a very good platform that the government of India is providing for budding players, especially those who are between 17 to 21 years of age. They must utilize this opportunity to get recognized and their performance at the Khelo India University Games will definitely be closely followed by their respective state units who are scouting players for their state teams for Junior and Senior National Championships from where players get selected for National camp. With the Khelo India Games, a good ecosystem for sports is being created," stated VR Raghunath, double Olympian and drag-flick specialist.
Speaking about the competition he expects to witness at the upcoming Khelo India University Games 2021, Raghunath said, "Teams from Punjab, Haryana, Tamil Nadu and even Karnataka which has two teams will bring their best players. With only the top eight teams entering the tournament, I feel the competition will be quite close as at least five teams are on part with each other."
Over 4,500 participants from around 190 universities will vie for top honours in 20 disciplines at the Khelo India University Games hosted by Jain University in Bengaluru from April 24 to May 3. This will be the largest mass-participation national-level sporting event being held post-pandemic.
Apart from utilizing this platform to shine, Raghunath said the players should also soak up the atmosphere of multi-discipline games. "At a young age, players are getting to be part of a mega multi-discipline Games with the grand opening and closing ceremonies. We used to have this kind of exposure in our days, only at the National Games and that too after we made it to the Senior level. But with Khelo India Youth Games and University Games, even U-21 players are getting such an atmosphere and I really feel they should enjoy it and learn from their experience here," added the Arjuna awardee.
Raghunath, who also closely works with Hockey Karnataka and represents the Indian Oil Corporation (IOCL), said that good performance in Khelo India will help players get jobs with PSUs (Public Sector). "I think Khelo India University Games is now part of recognized events for jobs under sports quota. Finishing on the podium will definitely hold good for their future prospects and I wish all the teams taking part the very best I am looking forward to some good hockey in the coming days at Khelo India University Games, Bengaluru," Raghunath concluded. (ANI)