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Stockmaan, a hero for underprivileged Indian kids

Jaap Stockmaan is regarded by millions as one of the best hockey goalkeepers in the world, but for many not-so-affluent Indian children, the Dutchman is a hero, a saviour of their dreams.

Stockmaan has proved the proverb ‘Charity begins at home’ wrong through his pet project ‘Chak de India’, a charitable initiative that has provided over 7,000 pieces of hockey equipment to deprived children throughout India, giving aspiring hockey players the chance to train and play the game.

While travelling around the country in the last three years playing in the Hockey India League (HIL), Stockmaan witnessed the difficulties children in the remote villages face in their pursuit to learn the sport and this first-hand account led to the birth of the ‘Chak de India’ project.

“When I first played in Hockey India League three years back I saw huge enthusiasm for the sport which was fantastic. I saw the kids really love playing the game but there was lack of equipments. I saw children from villages use homemade stuff and play on a gravel field,” Stockmaan said during the just-concluded Hero Hockey World League (HWL) Final in Raipur.

“Back home in Holland, a lot of people are playing hockey but a lot of people throw away their equipment after some time and buy new ones. That is when I thought to collect equipment in Holland and send it to India and these can be used by the underprivileged kids,” he said.

Stockmaan, who used to play for Jaypee Punjab Warriors, then shared the idea with former India coach Jagbir Singh who was in the support staff of the HIL outfit, and the latter got him connected to veteran hockey writer-cum former IIT graduate K Arumugam, who runs an NGO ‘One Thousand Hockey Legs’.

Within six months of conceptualizing the project, Stockmaan collected 7,000 second-hand hockey equipment which included sticks, balls, goalie equipment and shoes of top brands.

“It was a huge success. In two months we collected a full container of goalkeeping kits, shirts, hockey sticks and everything. Six months ago, it reached India and now the school kids are using it,” Stockmaan said.

“It started as a one-time project but in future I am going to do it again. Reactions were very positive so it was really nice.”

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