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15 Jun 2011

His best years are behind him nor is he in contention to be in the national side but still Deepak Thakur has a lot to look forward to. An overseas coaching assignment happens to be the reason for 30-year-old’s optimism. Though, he happens to be the pivot in Karnataka’s attack at the ongoing Nationals, Thakur has been named the national coach of Mauritius.

“A friend of mine got in touch with me after the sports officials in Mauritius expressed interest in developing hockey in Mauritius. To be honest, I did not expect anything big and only wanted to meet them initially to get an idea. But when I reached there, I realised they were very serious about developing the game,” Thakur told The Indian Express.

In fact, it was the visit to the Island country that saw Thakur landing a day late for the nationals here. “The credit for initiating the idea goes to a person called Mauritius local Jagdish Nijhawan and his family, who are very passionate about the sport. The entire proposal had been in the pipeline with the Sports Ministry there for a few years but only now it has been implemented,” he added.

During the four-day trip he attended the formal launch of the Hockey federation of Mauritius and accompanied local officials during a nation-wide tour to schools and colleges for a initiation programme. “I know it’s a huge responsibility. Hockey doesn’t exist in Mauritius and I will have to start from the scratch. But that’s a challenge. If everything is in place, then there is no fun,” he said.

After the visit Thakur has been thinking a lot about ‘Project Mauritius’ and he has a few things in mind. “After being an international player for so many years, I know what it takes to stay motivated and succeed. One thing I will make sure is that the basic facilities — many of which do not cost the world — are all in place. Everything that we struggled to get here as players, I will make sure is available to even the beginners there,” he said.

Thakur will be leaving for Mauritius next month to hold a 10-day workshop for physical education. So is he playing to shift base? “I am still playing here. Also, I have a secure job with Indian Oil and have to take my employers into confidence and seek their permission as well. It is not simply about packing up one fine day and shifting to another country. But I am sure of their support. After all, it’s only to raise the profile of the game,” he says.



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