New Delhi, Oct 28 (IANS) Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday signed a three-year partnership with Sports Authority of India (SAI), extending its commitment towards helping hockey regain its position as the country’s top sport.

This would mark the beginning of a new era for Indian hockey, enabling SAI to invest in innovative programmes, developing India as a world class hockey nation.

The three-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) acknowledges hockey as a medium for the development and promotion of values in the youth of the nation.

It also states that SAI is desirous of promoting hockey as a tool for youth development and excellence in sports. The two bodies, in the next three years, would be working towards creating a lasting legacy for the sport by developing hockey coaching system, talent identification and infrastructure for inculcating positive values in today’s youth through hockey, education, health and other allied areas.

“It’s a very proud moment for all of us here at HI today. SAI has always been there with us for our support, but this MoU only marks the beginning of a new era for hockey in India,” HI president Narinder Batra said.

“It also shows that our team’s hard work and dedication haven’t gone unnoticed and the government does see a huge value that the sport can bring towards youth development in India. I am confident that in the next three years we will identify many budding youngsters for our programmes which will only further our cause of making Indian hockey world class.”

SAI also aims to help HI strengthen its coach development programme by providing domestic coaches with internationally recognised hockey coaching courses and license certification to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) students.

According to the memorandum, dedicated SAI coaches would become hockey scouts at pre-identified areas and scouting trials by HI national team coaches would be organised for various youth age groups at select SAI centres.

“SAI is committed to invest in developing hockey within India. We aim to develop innovative programmes and create avenues for a fruitful and rewarding career in the sport of hockey through this association,” SAI director general Injeti Srinivas said.

“I am hopeful of some very positive results in the course of the next three years and eager to see Indian hockey rise to the top spot in the world hockey map.”

    The IANS was founded by Indian American publisher Gopal Raju as the India Abroad News Service. It was later renamed the Indo-Asian News Service.

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