Family Hockey

By P.T. Bopanna

The game of hockey is played with lot of passion by the Kodavas (Coorgs) in the Kodagu (Coorg) district of Karnataka. So much so that it is even being said that “hockey is in the blood of the Kodavas”. Like the coffee plantations, the British introduced hockey in Kodagu.

It will not be an exaggeration to say that Kodagu is a nursery of Indian hockey. For the last several decades, hockey players from Kodagu have found representation in the Indian team to the Olympics. Those from Kodagu who have captained the Indian team in the past include the legendary B.P.Govinda, M.P.Ganesh, M.M.Somaiya, Arjun Halappa, and A.B. Subbaiah.

More than 50 players from Kodagu have represented India in international hockey tournaments, including M.D. Muthappa, M.S. Monnappa, K.M. Kusha, B.K. Subramani, A.B.Subbaiah, K.M. Chengappa, K.K. Poonacha, C.S. Poonacha, Len Ayyappa, P.E. Kalaiah, Ammanda Vasu, Vinod Chinnappa, S.K. Uthappa, Amar Aiyamma, Arjun Halappa, Nithin Thimmaiah, S.V.Sunil, V.R. Raghunath and Nikkin Thimmaiah.

Mallamada Narendra Ponnamma was part of Indian women’s hockey team. Anupama Puchimanda is the first ever Indian woman hockey umpire to officiate the junior world cup and Commonwealth Games.

The game of hockey received a new lease of life in Kodagu after Pandanda Kuttappa, popularly known as Kuttani, a retired State Bank of India official and a hockey enthusiast, started family hockey tournament exclusively for the Kodavas in 1997.

In this unique tournament, members of various Kodava families (clans), play one another. There is no age or gender bar for participating in the matches, though of late, the tournament has become very competitive, involving high calibre hockey. Of the over 700 Kodava families, more than 200 families have been sending their teams for the tournament which is played in the month of April.  More than a sport, the family hockey has become a social event, with family members cheering up their teams with gusto. There is a festive atmosphere in the air with stalls coming up near the match venues, serving delicious Kodagu dishes.

The hockey festival has helped bring unity and bonding among the Kodava community. It has also revived the love for hockey as most of the Kodava youngsters were switching over to playing cricket, a game which has become an obsession with Indians.

The hockey festival has already found its name in the Limca Book of Records for the largest ever hockey event to be organized in any part of the world at one stretch.

The Kodava Hockey Academy is the apex body which has the final word on matters related to the tournament.  Sixty families participated in the first tournament organized by the “Pandanda” family in 1997 at Karada which was won by the Kaliyanda family.

The Palanganda family has won the maximum number of tournaments by winning five times. Amar Aiyamma has played a crucial role in the victory of Palanganda family.

The family hockey tournament was not held in 2019 following the unprecedented landslides in Kodagu in 2018 and 2019. It could not be held in 2020 and 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Finally, the 23rd edition of the tournament was held by the Appachettolanda family in 2023 at Napoklu which saw participation from a record 336 teams.

Pandanda Kuttappa (aged 85), who conceived the idea of ‘Kodava family hockey festival’, passed away on May 7, 2020.

Kodava Hockey Festival by year[3]

No.YearNameHeld atNumber
of teams
WinnerRunners Up
11997Pandanda CupKarada60KaliyandaAnjaparavanda
21998Kodira CupKadanga116KullettiraKoothanda
31999Ballachanda CupKakotparambu140Koothanda
and Kullettira
42000Cheppudira CupPonnampet170KoothandaNellamakkada
52001Nellamakkada CupAmmathi220KoothandaCheppudira
62002Chekkera CupHudikeri252KullettiraNellamakkada
72003Kaliyanda CupNapoklu280NellamakkadaKonerira
82004Maleyanda CupMadapur235KoothandaNellamakkada
92005Biddanda CupMadikeri222NellamakkadaKoothanda
102006Kallichanda CupPonnampet217PalangandaMachamada
112007Mandettira CupKakotparambu186MandepandaAnjaparavanda
122008Alamengada CupPonnampet216AnjaparavandaKoothanda
132009Mandepanda CupAmmathi231NellamakkadaMachamada
142010Maneyapanda Cup [7]Ponnampet214[8]PalangandaMukkatira(Bonda)
152011Machamada Cup [5]Ponnampet228PalangandaKaliyanda
162012Iychetira CupAmmathi217PalangandaKaliyanda
172013Madanda CupBalugodu225AnjaparavandaPalanganda
182014Thathanda Cup [6]Virajpet242KaliyandaPalanganda
192015Kuppanda Cup [9]Virajpet255PalangandaChendanda
202016Shantheyanda Cup [9]Madikeri299KaliyandaPalanganda
212017Biddatanda Cup [9]Napoklu306ChendandaParadanda
222018Kulletira Cup [9]Napoklu334ChendandaAnjaparuvanda
232023Appachettolanda Cup [9]Napoklu336KuppandaKulletira