Ratanpura, a village in the Bhilwara district of Rajasthan echoes with Chak De India! every time a hockey match is played in the area. Not only children but even parents are equally passionate about the national sport. Interestingly, families in this village prefer to give hockey sticks to their kids instead of cricket bats.
Their passion for the sport is so strong that every household in the village contributed Rs 100 to organise a district level hockey competition. "We are surviving on agriculture but we are ready to provide all sort of assistance to keep Ratanpura ahead in the state when it is about hockey," said Ram Dev, a local.
Home to 150 families, Ratanpura boasts of hockey field which lies adjacent to the school. Few residents helped in preparing the field suitable for hockey while others worked for free as labourers.
Meanwhile, the head of the village, Shankar Lal, donated 11 hockey sticks to the team. One person donated a sports kit while few others made monetary donations.
Shabbir Ali, the physical education teacher of the upper primary school in the village is the man responsible for spreading the passion for hockey amongst the children.
Ali, who has been teaching in the village from the last eight years, described the reaction of children when they encountered hockey for the first time four years ago.
"Initially, it was difficult to think about the sport as a career option but now children dream of being a hockey player. At that time, there was no facility for hockey or any other sport in the village. I felt like doing something for the village as well as the national hockey team," said Ali.
In order to retain the charm of the sport, school teachers are playing their part too. Shivaji Ram, principal of the school says, "We have a special 'Hockey Bank' for which every member of the school staff contributes almost Rs 200 to Rs 300 per month to promote the sport."
Almost every child in the village is associated with hockey, not barring girls as they are equally enthusiastic towards sports. As many as seven kids from the village have played hockey at the national level while 33 have shown their calibre at the state level.