news Wednesday, April 08, 2015 - 05:30
 The News Minute | April 6, 2015 | 02:00 pm IST Of late the Ice Hockey Association of India (IHAI) has been in news for launching an online crowdsourcing campaign to fund the national team’s participation in the upcoming Ice Hockey Championship Cup of Asia in Kuwait.  They generated a lot interest after turning to social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to gain sponsorship. Even t hough the team has began preparations for the tournament, which will be held from April 18-25, their participation is still hanging in mid-air due to shortage of funds. Twitter has helped the association in highlighting their plight, and to spread awareness about the game; however response to funding seems to have been minimal till now.  “Twitter has helped generate a lot of interest around the issue, and a lot of people have expressed their willingness to help us. But we haven’t got sponsorships through the platform yet,” says Akshay Kumar, Director of IHAI.   Tweets in Hindi have also helped them get a far wider reach than the ones in English.     #Supporticehockey campaign is working slowly and slowly, Keep donating for team with @BitGiving , follow the links: https://t.co/UYtZlPYI5P — Ice Hockey India (@icehockeyindia) April 4, 2015 So #SupportIceHockey is now trending in India, it took 6 years but finally people are helping us in spreading awareness about the game! — Ice Hockey India (@icehockeyindia) April 3, 2015 It is so tough to push sports like Ice Hockey when cricket takes up all sponsor budgets. We have a national team and are begging for money. — Ice Hockey India (@icehockeyindia) March 5, 2015 The team requires Rs 12 lakh, which excludes the cost of training and hiring an international coach. Most of the funds the association has managed to collect are from friends and family. The players too have also pitched in Rs 20,000 each. Now they need to cover the remaining Rs 3.5 lakhs, of which only around 1 lakh has been received. The Indian ice hockey team comprises of 22 players, including two goalkeepers.  Ishita Anand, CEO of BitGiving, the platform being used to raise funds, says: "The campaign has found huge support on Twitter with the hashtag #SupportIceHockey and the campaign link trending within an hour of the campaign going live."  She adds: "We call out to all Indians to support this wonderful team and help them go to Kuwait this year."   The team can practice in Ladakh only till February after which the snow starts to melt in the region. At present, the team is practicing in a rink in Delhi’s ambience mall. “The size of the rink is smaller than what we need, but something is better than nothing,” Kumar says. From the players’ transport to the rink, to their accommodation in Delhi for the duration of their stay, everything is being provided for by individual donors.  Kumar agrees that ice hockey is not a recognised sport in the country, and they are struggling to improve the sport as they lack the funds and infrastructure.  “The government will fund us if we get a medal. But without the funds to train, how can we win a medal?,” asks Kumar.  Team coach Adam Sherlip, does not charge for his training services to the team. It is because he believes that if the team gets the right opportunities and facilities, it has the potential to do well. “In India, Ice Hockey is still in its nascent stages. It is not a part of the national identity. But it is a game of passion- from the players to fans to the coach to even those managing the game. And with that passion the game can grow tremendously,” Sherlip says.  “Kuwait is preparing for the tournament in Sweden, one of the best places in the world to practice. We can’t afford that financially,” he adds.     Head Coach Adam Sherlip arrived in the camp from US today, coaches the Indian team for free! #SupportIceHockey pic.twitter.com/F8vIJcOYxs — Ice Hockey India (@icehockeyindia) April 5, 2015 Sherlip feels that despite the odds the team faces, over the years it has improved significantly. “We are getting better, but so is the competition getting tougher,” he says. The members of the association know that the team is not up to the international standard, but are hoping that their hard work will help them win a medal in the tournament.    (All images source: Ice Hockey Association of India/Facebook)

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