Fr Crispino D'Souza with the budding players and coaches at the venue
Fr Crispino D'Souza with the budding players and coaches at the venue

Mumbai: Don Bosco High School, Matunga, has been the cradle of sports and academics in many ways. Over the years, there have been great names who have received instruction at this illustrious institution established in 1950. Although giving physical education and sports the requisite weightage in the school curriculum is an arduous task, Don Bosco, also known as Salesians, are among the few who have proved otherwise.

They have always been the frontrunners in more ways than one. The school has produced many sportsmen, political bigwigs and Bollywood stars. Edgar Mascarenhas, Joaquim Carvalho, Mervyn Fernandes, to name a few Olympians, and Ravi Shastri, Farokh Engineer in the past and in the present, the cricketer Shreyas Iyer amongst others.

The school has always nurtured the underprivileged and this is the word that comes to mind when one thinks of the state of Indian hockey. Naturally, it has taken Salesians to come to the rescue of this national sport. An FIH-approved, 91.4 metre x 55 metre turf has come up on its premises, and in the process opened a new chapter in Mumbai schools, as Don Bosco is the first school to have a full-sized hockey ground at its disposal.

And may this be an eye-opener to those among us who say they are taking this sport to new heights, but have not done so. The recently concluded Gold Cup Hockey event was one such, wherein the promoters could not garner a single sponsor, a clear indication that hockey is not getting the push it needs.

However, now there is cause for cheer, thanks to the Salesians, who have come up with a turf for the use of their schoolchildren and other budding talent who would like to make a career in hockey, at the Don Bosco Hockey Academy in Matunga. “No matter what the state of hockey is in our country and in Mumbai, the sport has always been a priority at Don Bosco,” said Fr Crispino D’Souza, Rector of Don Bosco, Matunga, and the brains behind the project.Backing him is none other than Edgar Mascarenhas, the Indian international.

“I’ve always wanted to give back to the game and this has given me an opportunity,” said Mascarenhas of the project, which has cost Rs 3.6 crore. Incidentally, this is the third one in the city after the Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd’s surface at Churchgate and the Sports Authority of India facility in Kandivli.

“Mir Ranjan Negi and of course, Edgar. With this turf we hope to produce more national hockey stars from the Don Bosco stable,” said Fr Crispino, who is happy to lease the facility to outsiders for a fee but strictly for hockey matches only, besides opening the ground for the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) for inter-school games or MHAL for club matches.

The other who have made this happen, besides Fr Crispino are Provincial Fr. Godfrey D`Souza and the council, who realised the need of the hour was to somehow revive and encourage hockey among its students and children from the neighbourhood. The ground is set to be inaugurated on Saturday evening when yesteryear Olympians will run shoulder-to-shoulder with budding youngsters at an exhibition match to be played on the surface.

Ground realities

  • Size of the FIH-approved full-size artificial hockey turf is 91.4x55m.
  • The white sand-based turf needs no watering.
  • Manufacturer is FieldTurf of Tarkett Group.

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