A Tale of Sticks and Balls: Inter-NIT Sports
The Inter-NIT tournaments for Hockey and Volleyball was hosted by NIT Suratkal from 17th – 19th March 2017. This edition witnessed a new wave of change as the contingents from NITR displayed remarkable excellence in these sports and came over the lacunae they faced in the previous editions. Although NITR didn’t accomplish the top position, it did manage to show an impressive performance and gave a tough fight to its competitors. Team MM brings you a brief report of the performance of these contingents.
This was the second time that the NITR hockey contingent participated in Inter-NIT. The team was headed by interim captain Kumar Shanu, as Umesh Oram, the team captain had to back out due to unavoidable circumstances. A total of 8 teams participated this year. These teams were divided into two pools, each consisting of 4 teams.
NITR was pooled along with NIT Suratkal, NIT Raipur and NIT Jamshedpur. In the first match, they went against NIT Raipur and won by 1-0 with the goal scorer being Kumar Shanu. In the second match, they went against NIT Suratkal and unfortunately lost by 0-4. In the third match, they went against NIT Jamshedpur and the match was a tie of 2-2 with the goal scorers being Ajit Barla and Laxmidhar Majhi. To decide the winner, the goal difference was compared with the matches against NIT Suratkal and unfortunately, due to high goal difference, NITR team could not qualify for the semi-finals and hence got eliminated.
On getting in touch with Kumar Shanu, he quoted
This year, the team could not have sufficient time for practice as many players were new, but we tried our level best and performed better than the previous year by defeating the former bronze medalist, NIT Raipur. Next year, our main focus will be to build a strong and permanent team by inducting freshers and teaching them to become strong players, so that the experience passes down within the team and in this way it can perform even better in the years to come.
During the preparations for the tournament, the team did face some difficulties like the nets not being available for practice, lights not being put up for late night practices in DTS and the DTS ground not being suitable for practice. The team initially planned to have a coach, but could not get one and hence on personal request managed to bring two players from the SAIL Hockey Team, who were national players, to guide them.
In this edition, 24 teams from NITs present all over India participated. These teams were divided into 8 pools, each pool consisting of 3 teams who had to compete against each other. Unlike previous years, this year there was a major change in the rule that every single match will be a knock-out i.e. if any team loses even a single match out of the two matches it is scheduled to play, then it would get eliminated. On the first day, 16 teams got eliminated and the only the remaining 8 could participate in further rounds, the NITR contingent being one among them.
NITR was pooled with NIT Agartala and NIT Uttarakhand. It defeated Agartala and Uttarakhand in the first and second matches respectively and earned a slot in the quarter-finals. On 18th the quarter-finals were held against NIT Calicut , which NITR won and it paved their way to the semi-finals, where they were teamed against NIT Trichy. Unfortunately, they lost against Trichy and hence could not achieve the title. But the loss did not undermine the spirit of the team and they won the match against NIT Surat to win the position of the second runners-up. Kiran Kumar Reddy, a team member won the award of the best defense amongst all the players of the tournament.
On getting in touch with Arun Kumar Palla, Team Captain he quoted
The team’s performance has improved a lot in compared to previous year, because this year we were able to defeat the teams of Agartala, Calicut and Uttarakhand (finalist for past two years) which defeated us last year. We got a very good coach this time who helped us a lot in changing our game plan and the institute also supported us a lot with regard to equipment and space. If such dedication and hardwork stays in the team, I am pretty sure that next year we will be able to win the first position.
The tournament saw a participation of 17 women’s teams. They were divided into 4 pools, each consisting of 4 teams and one pool of 5 teams. NITR was pooled with NIT Goa, NIT Jamshedpur and NIT Durgapur. The tournament was a league type, where winning maximum matches within the pool would earn a team a place in the quarter-finals. NITR qualified the league stages wherein they won against NIT Goa and NIT Jamshedpur. They gave a tough fight to NIT Durgapur but lost it. This team ended its campaign at the quarter-final stage where they lost to the host NIT Suratkal.
Commenting on the team’s performance, Punyaja Dash, Team Captain said
We gave a tough competition to all our competitors. This was the best Inter NIT that I have been to and this is the best girls volley team that I have been a part of. But the worst part was the wind factor. Since it’s near the beach, the wind was a major game winning factor. We had absolutely no idea how to manipulate with the wind. Even though we had some knowledge about it we couldn’t tackle it because of the lack of practice. Apart from that the accommodation and food was very good except that the weather was very eccentric - in the morning it is very hot and in the evening it is windy and towards the night it becomes humid.