Is Kodava family hockey festival losing steam?
Is the ‘family hockey’ concept losing ground in Kodagu? It seems so, if one goes by the fact that only around 150 teams have registered this year for the 2009 ‘Mandepanda Cup’ to be held at Ammathi in April.
Mandepanda A. Kuttanna, the spokesperson for the hockey festival, said the last date for registration of teams has been extended to March 30 to accommodate more teams.
It is a paradox that the while the budget for the hockey festival has reached a staggering Rs 35 lakh this year, the number of teams has fallen drastically.
For instance, the Kaliyanda Cup played at Napoklu in 2003, drew a record 280 teams and the Maleyanda Cup witnessed the participation of 235 teams in action.
The matches this time would be held at the Ammathi government primary school and high school grounds.
Work is on to build galleries to accommodate over 30,000 people for the semi-final and final matches of the 13th edition of the festival. Café Coffee Day will be main sponsor.
With Madikeri BJP MLA Mandepanda Appachu Ranjan being the patron of the festival, there seems to be no constraint on sponsors and funds. The organizers have even come forward to provide hockey sticks and other accessories to the needy teams. Besides, they have offered to provide vehicles to ferry the teams.
It is time for Pandanda Kuttani, who conceived the idea of family hockey to introspect as to why the number of participating teams have come down.
The reasons could be many. From recession in the economy to the obsession with cricket among the Kodava youth. Probably, the players do not want to risk their jobs in time of recession by taking leave from their work.
There have been reports that gambling dens have been coming up near the venue of the matches and people have lost interest in the game of hockey.
For the sake of Kodava unity and to encourage the spirit of the game, the Kodava Hockey Academy should draw up a road map to restore the festival to its original glory.