Chandigarh: Twenty years ago, it was seen as no less than an “Indian revolution”. Wood was used to manufacture hockey sticks and the process was cumbersome, especially the hook. The hook is the most important part of the hockey stick as it comes in touch with the ball the most. Seven pieces of wood were bound together, boiled, dried, glued and bent on a machine, before going through a number of processes, including sawing and polishing, till the handle was added.
Sanjay Kohli, owner of RK Sports Pvt Ltd on Kapurthala Road in Jalandhar, which makes the popular Rakshak brand of hockey sticks used by many Indian hockey players, both men and women, evolved a new way of manufacturing to make them more smooth, stronger and long-lasting.
He began using condoms on the hook. Though most of the hockey sticks are now made from graphite, the wood ones of his brand continue to receive the condom touch.
“The idea of using condoms in making the hook came to me after a large number of hockey sticks began getting damaged. A net used to be pasted on the front portion of the hook to avoid it from splitting. And once cracks appeared on them, the stick could not be repaired and had to be discarded and burnt in the factory’s furnace. The hook has to remain smooth," Kohli said.
Unable to find any alternative to ensure the hook remained smooth and buyers were not returning them, Kohli began using various methods. But to no avail.
"One day I bought a box of condoms and the result was tremendous," he said. But despite the results, Kohli, was hesitant in using them for largescale production and felt embarrassed.
Incidentally, when Kohli began using condoms on all hockey sticks, he had to face problems as the shopkeeper from whom the supplies came became suspicious.
"An employee used to go daily to the shop to buy condoms and one day he came back stating the shopkeeper had demanded to know what he was doing with the condoms. When he came to me I told him where the condoms were being used. He refused to believe me till I showed him the process," Kohli said. The daily requirements of condoms began arriving without anyone having to go to fetch them and orders for the sticks were not being returned.
Among the Indian players using the Rakshak brand of hockey sticks, both men and women, Rani Rampal, Sharmila Devi, Nikki Pradhan, Simranjit Singh among others.