New Delhi [India], Apr 18 (ANI): The Indian Men's Ice Hockey Team, preparing for the upcoming 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia Div-1 at Kuwait, have solicited for funds to participate at the tournament.
In a media release, the Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI), said that they have accumulated an expense of around Rs. 26 lakhs for training in Kyrgyzstan.
"The team has already spent most of their personal funds on training well. Now, with just a week before the Kuwait tournament, they are falling short of Rs. 12 lakhs to participate in the tournament. They need this fund to pay for their travel tickets, visa, equipment and coach," IHAI said.
The organisation also said that despite not getting any government funding, infrastructure and mass media, the team rides on the sheer will of 22 young players from the Himalayan region of India.
"They invest their own money, their parents' savings, the support of their well wishers, meager sponsorships to proudly wear the Indian jersey in international arenas," the association stated.
In spite of all hardships, the team had managed to register their first international win against Macau in 2012, in Dehradun.
"They have been participating in the IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia since 2009 but it was the availability of India's only international rink in Dehradun, which made the victory against Macau possible. The rink since 2012 has been lying shut but it did not deter the team to participate and keep their hopes alive while participating in the subsequent Asian Championships," the press release stated.
Harjinder Singh, general secretary of IHAI, believes participation is essential for the growth of the sport.
"Few wins and we hope government and Indian sports enthusiasts will be taking note of this sport. Ice Hockey being the fastest contact team sport, this Winter Olympic Sport will soon become popular in India. What this sport needs is the attention of investors and it would be as popular in India, as NHL is in North America," he said.
The IHAI also said that the team have been training hard for a couple of weeks and are quite hopeful of their chances in the upcoming tournament to be held between April 22 to 25.
"With just seven days to go for the Kuwait tournament, the team now has high hopes for the crowd-funding campaign to raise the required funds for them. We request everyone to donate a small amount of money and help the team to compete with full vigour," it said
"The team is also looking for sponsorship opportunities. We request everyone to also share and spread the message so that this is brought to the notice of corporates looking to fund athletes under their CSR initiative," it added. (ANI)