This is the story of Dominic Toppo of Odisha. The 71 year old passionate coach whose fit body belies his age. Such passion for hockey, such madness that he even sold his business. Mortgaged the ancestral land. Sometimes there is no luck even for two times bread, but the hunger to prepare hockey players remains intact. It is people like Dominic, because of whom the spirit of hockey is alive in the country. Otherwise our national game would have died long ago under the richness of cricket.
Waking up before sunrise and reaching home only after sunset, Dominic Toppo’s routine has been the same for the past 22 years. Daily reaches the ground by cycling 40-50 kms. Small children are taught to hold a stick. He explains with love and sometimes he shouts. This hockey took away everything from Toppo. The ration shop, which was running well, was closed. Ancestral land was sold. But this struggle did not go away. He produced more than 100 national players, out of which 13 have played or are playing for the Indian team.
Dominic Toppo, a resident of Rourkela, Odisha, is one of those coaches who never gets the recognition, wealth and fame that he deserves, but who wanted the name and fame. Toppo’s Hockey Factory stands out. Most separated. There is no modern technique here. No presentation, no video footage, just emotion and madness for Hawke.
Dominic Toppo tells about his journey, ‘My father used to play hockey, so I inherited this game. The whole childhood was spent in the hockey field. Initially he used to play with bamboo wood. The same stick dodged all the defenders and reached from one goal post to another. Then there was no one to guide me. The dream of playing for the Indian team remained just a dream. Now I am fulfilling my dream by preparing children for the Indian team.
It is not that Dominic Toppo started coaching as soon as he left hockey. First he opened a ration shop, which started earning good income, because of this he decided to become a coach. In the beginning, training was given only to such children who do not have parents. This idea came from Mother Teresa. Roaming around in his bicycle searching for children. Girls are more disciplined than boys, so they are given training. Watching international players play, then giving training in the same style.
Meanwhile, Dominic Toppo’s wife who was his backbone says goodbye to the world. There was a support system. Due to hockey, he was not able to pay attention in the ration shop, so he sold that too. The expenses of coaching mortgaged 12 acres of ancestral land. Neither sought help from anyone nor came forward to help. Got 60 thousand rupees after mortgaging the land. Due to not being able to pay interest, lost the land today. Now his only source of income is those trees of Sangwan, by selling which he earns 12-15 thousand rupees a month. With this money, they make their team play tournaments across the country. Sometimes there is not even enough money left to eat food.
Now finally the story ends where it started that ’till my last breath, as long as there is life within me, I will continue this, I will die doing this work’.
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