BENGALURU: The St Johns High School ground wore a festive look on Monday. Hoisting of the national flag, food stalls, music and most importantly a playing field filled with people of all ages and skill levels showing off their hockey skills.
All India Anglo-Indian Association, Bangalore Branch, has relaunched its annual Independence Day hockey festival after a two-year Covid-induced hiatus. The community-exclusive Sevens Hockey Tournament, which began in 1982, attracts Anglo-Indians from various parts of the world, many of whom plan their annual vacations to coincide with the tournament.
The tournament is played in a seven-a-side format with a mandatory team of five men and two women, providing the opportunity for siblings, parents and children to play on the same team.
Travis Timothy Ignatius, a Dubai-based retail worker on vacation, performed alongside his aunts, while his mother Sharon took part in the festival’s ball throwing competition. “In the past, I played hockey alongside my mom and often worried about her getting hurt,” laughed Travis.
“I’m glad the tournament is back after Covid. It’s an opportunity for the community to come together and the sport is a huge bonding factor for us with hockey being the primary sport most of us have practiced. I love being able to play alongside my family members and this time my aunt is part of my team,” the 30-year-old added as he warmed up for a game.
For Daryl, an eight-year-old entering the tournament for the first time, it was an experience he had only heard of. “I had heard about the tournament before, but it’s exciting to play the tournament with my cousins and friends. We’ve been training for the tournament and preparing well,” Daryl said.
“Hockey is a very important part of our culture. In the past we have had Olympians who have played in the tournament. The consequences of Covid-19 are that we have fewer teams this year and little player participation but the spirit remains the same,” said Brendon Bastion, one of the organizers.
Among those who were part of the celebration was Olympian and former Indian hockey captain Jude Felix. With food also being a big part of Anglo-Indian culture, the stalls offering authentic dishes were a big draw.