The world may appear to be bombarded with cricket at the moment, what with a Test being played here and a one-day there, but the other sport Asians get passionate about, hockey, is still very much alive and kicking. So much so that this weekend Coventry hosted a national tournament organised by local side, The Sikh Union. I caught up with Sunny Kanwal, team captain, to find out how the day went, and whether Hockey is still really a passion.
How did you form your team?
Well hockey's just a passion really, I've been playing for the last twenty years, the clubs been going since 1968. It originated from Nairobi, Kenya and people who emigrated over have carried that tradition on. We are one of those clubs in the UK, it's a bit of a tradition really running the hockey club.
How many teams do you have?
We run three sides at the moment. The fist side plays in the DTZ, Winter league, first division. The second side plays in the second division in the DTZ league and we're in the process of setting up the third side now. We're also hoping to set up a ladies volley ball, and men's volley ball team and diversify to other sports. We've got a structure set up now, where we have a social body which will handle all the social events, things like the Vaisakhi mela etc.
Now, there was a national hockey tournament at the weekend, who took part in that?
This is an annual six-aside tournament. We basically run two tournaments in one, a veteran tournament and a normal six-aside tournament. The teams involved are us (The Sikh Union), Sikh Union Nottingham, The Lions from London, Nam Dharis, Panthers from Birmingham and Sydney Stringers. In the Veteran's tournament, we had Sikh Union, Panthers Birmingham, Khalsa, Wolverhampton, Hays from London and from Birmingham.
Well, in the normal six aside, Sikh Union Nottingham beat Sikh Union Coventry in the final, and the winners in the Veterans were Khalsa who beat Wolverhampton.
When you think sport, in South Asia, you immediately think of cricket first, and then hockey. In this country, it's the same, hockey comes third or fourth in the order, is it difficult to get young people involved?
Well, I think that it's football that we're up against in this country, however, we are getting a youth structure together now, we're setting up a youth camp within our own club. And we've got between 15 and 18 youths, age ranging from 8 years to 14 years, and that's run by one of our senior members. It's only been up and running for about six months, and it's doing very well, and hopefully, they'll be coming up into the first and second teams.
Now, I understand that your current coach is an ex England player, is that right?
Yes, we're quite lucky to have a coach who has been in the England camp. I don't think he was a player, but he's actually trained with the England players, and he's actually working in Coventry now, coaching us. It's a brilliant opportunity to be coached by him.
Could we see a future England player come out of your side?
I think for the first team, we're all a bit too old for that now. But with the youngsters coming up, its certainly a very good thing to aim for.