HOCKEY’S HIGHEST PRIZE
Not long ago, you might have been forgiven for not knowing that anyone in India actually played the sort of hockey that involves skates, a puck and frozen water. But a national championship that is played at 3,500 metres above sea level, in Leh, is already a decade old.
In the final match of this month’s championships, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) edged out the local Ladakh Scouts Regimental Centre (LSRC)-Red with a penalty shot, following a scoreless 70-minute game and no result in extra time.
There are other signs of life in the sport as well. With an American coach who was once affiliated with the US National Hockey League’s New York Islanders, the underfunded Indian national team—which has an advantage over the Jamaican bobsled squad of Cool
Runnings (and Winter Olympic) fame, in that India does actually have some ice—has been competing with Asian rivals like Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates since 2009. Some may recall Speedy Singhs—a forgettable Hindi film about an ice hockey team with Akshay Kumar. A documentary is also in the works, titled Fighting on Ice, telling the stories of
India’s real-life ice hockey stars.
A national ice hockey championship played in Leh is already a decade old
The Indo-Tibetan Border Police team in action; ITBP won the match on penalties PLUCKY CHAPS