Jamia’s contribution to Indian men’s hockey team immense
Jamia Millia Islamia is a popular destination for hockey ad Delhi students, who take up hockey in school, aspire to enroll in Jamia wanting to be part of its hockey team.
The current Jamia team’s nippy striker Gaganjeet Singh attended the Jr. India camp last year; Md. Faraz is donning nation’s colours at present. Jamia’s past record is even more glorious.
The university, which celebrated its centenary on October 29, champions the cause of a range of sport. For hockey, however, it has been a haven for many a young player looking for an opportunity to pursue the sport without being hampered by the vagaries of prejudice and politics.
Dr Md Moonis is the backbone of Jamia hockey
Jamia’s impact on hockey began to bear fruit, evident from the long line of players who went on to don the country’s colours.
The institution, set up in Aligarh and moved to Delhi in 1925, was attended by cricketing superstar Virender Sehwag among many other sports luminaries.
The list of hockey stars who are ex-students include Gagan Ajit Singh, Devash Chauhan, Prabhjot Singh, Danish Mujtaba, Hamza Mujtaba, Tushar Khandker and Bharat Chikara to name a few who made a mark at international level.
Students with a penchant for hockey enjoyed concessions such as leniency when it came to choice of subjects of study, course etc and at times attendance. They also received valuable support in terms of cost borne by the university for training, playing and equipment.
Gagan Ajit Singh: Arjuna Awardee
Years after he dazzled in an India shirt, Gagan Ajit, who led India to Jr World Cup gold, recalls the fruitful time spent at Jamia in 1996-97. “The University helped sportspersons in a big way, especially hockey,” Gagan, son of Olympian Ajit Singh, says. Gagan is a proud Arjuna award winner, presently occupying a Deputy Superintendent of Police with Punjab Police.
“We used to play university tournaments and we were lucky to have very good coaches to guide us. Mohammad Moonis, our coach at the time, was one of them and it went a long way to developing me and enhancing my career,” the World Cupper, Olympian and son of star of yesteryear Ajit Singh says.
Double Olympian Devesh Chauhan, who along with Gagan, starred in India’s 2001 Junior World Cup win in Hobart, Australia, exudes gratitude for Jamia’s support for hockey. Both won the Jr World Cup gold then , along with Prabhjot Singh, all Arjuna Awardees.
The goalkeeper says that the long list of around 25 players who went on to play for the country tells the story.
Jr World Cup gold medalist
“Like Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab, Jamia has boosted hockey greatly. “We got the best of equipment, coaching and encouragement as players and students of the University,” Chauhan, who spent a year as a student there in 1998, fondly recollects. “Most of all, we had a good grass ground at our disposal on which to practice, train and play and that was very important at the time.
Jamia team that defeated Madras Univ. 3-0 at the latest Inter-University Championship, Gwalior
Dr Ajay Kumar Bansal, revered coach, explains his tryst with Jamia University which goes back to 1995 when he joined the Air India Academy in New Delhi from NIS Patiala.
“There was politics that affected selection of players in various college teams in the city. The quota system that governed selection meant that many deserving players did not get selected,” he explains.
“It affected a few of my boys who were ignored after which I spoke with Jamia sports authorities in 1996 who showed readiness to accept the players.
Former India coach is all praise for Jamia
“The cooperation shown by the University authorities and teachers enabled players compete at a high level,” says Dr Bansal who attained a doctorate from the University with a thesis on Tribal Hockey Players of Chhota Nagpur.
Dr Muhammad Moonis, head coach of Jamia, reflects on the vast strides the University has made since 1991 when they first qualified for the All India University championship after finishing third in the North Zone University championship.
Dr Moonis was captain of the team at the time and flashes back to the progress of Jamia’s hockey teams in the period that followed during which the University’s teams which won the North Zone title five times and the All India event once, in 2011-12.
“We finished third in the North Zone competition and did likewise at the All India championship in 1991,” says Dr Moonis who captained the side at the inter-university championships in 1992 and in later years coached the Indian Universities team (2000) and Junior National champions Air India in Chennai (2007).
Mahesh gives full credit to Jamia for Delhi hockey’s rise
Dr Moonis, for one, endorses the role of sport in the development of individuals and society and knows too well Jamia’s contribution to hockey. After all, he earned a doctorate, writing a thesis on the Economic, Social and Cultural impact of Sports: A case study of hockey tribal players of Sundergarh, Odisha. This year, the University won the North Zone title, quite aptly in its centenary year and the triumph gladdened Dr Moonis’ heart.
Jamia is also the reigning Delhi State Champions.
Mahesh Dayal, Hockey Delhi secretary, also acknowledges the role played by Jamia Millia Islamia to uplift the game.
“The university has a separate faculty for sports and involves modern technology and methods. So genuine are the University’s effort that I can’t find the proper word to describe their service to hockey,” he says.
“We (Hockey Delhi) do our best to make available an artificial surface from the seven we have in the city for their activity,” says the former winger who turned out for a host of top teams in the country including Tata’s in Mumbai and Air India. “The positivity that Jamia Islamia has shown has lifted the game,” Dayal says.
Dashing Indian star Danish Mujtaba
Danish Mujtaba spent three years at Jamia and looks back at priceless guidance by the university from, be it teachers, the dean and coaches.
“There was total support from all, particularly from Muhammad Moonis, our coach,” Mujtaba, former India midfielder, who studied at Jamia from 2005-07, graduating in Hindi says.
“Motivation was the key,” he adds. “And in coaches like Moonis we were fortunate to have a guiding light and more. Someone to take care of problems like attendance at class or any other issues that cropped up from time to time,” Mujtaba whose older brother, Hamza, a former India player as well, also belongs to the University’s alumni.
The punchline of course come from World Cup player and fitness freak Bharat Chhikara: “I spent my memorable day in Jamia.” Coming from the forward whose goals gave India memorable moments in the recent past vouchsafe for the fact that the Jamia is jewel in the beauty called hockey.
Mercurial forward Bharat is a proud Jamian
A well made century, one may say of Jamia while using a cricket-inspired metaphor. In hockey terms, the institution provides more than a flicker of hope for the sport in India that’s perennially grappling with challenges.
It is hoped a synthetic turf for hockey is laid in its premises befitting its status, which will do wonders for the game in the region. This will also be a fitting tribute to the hockey souls who did everything to bring laurels to the institution that is on its 100th year of service to the nation.
(Issued by Jamia sports unit)