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Striving for success

He never laments his lost opportunities, but, for his friends and parents, his future has become a big cause of worry.


DAY IN, day out, he slogs on the field, but what he gets in return is nothing but a moral satisfaction of having done his best for the day. Meet Mr. E.Mariya John Paul, an ebullient 29-year-old hockey player, still striving for survival after having emerged as a star in the local tournaments.

"I have been playing hockey for almost 19 years on the trot. I have represented Tamil Nadu in the national hockey championships and other prestigious tournaments for six years. I will continue playing hockey. If I could not do justice to the game on the field, I'll never hesitate to work for hockey off the field," says E.Mariya John Paul.

Such is his determination, he never laments his lost opportunities, but, for his friends and parents, his future has become a big cause of worry.

Right from his childhood in the Railway Colony, once considered as the Eton of Madurai hockey, where he had spent his formative years playing hockey, to what he is at present, his enthusiasm for playing hockey never waned. He makes it a point to be present at every single hockey match played in the city either as a player, if it is a senior tournament, or as an umpire, if it is for juniors.

As a school-going kid of the Sethupathi Pandithurai Corporation School, his penchant for athletics and hockey attracted the physical education teacher. His regular attendance at the Red Field grounds in Railway Colony, where hockey players used to practise, caught the attention of many players. He started learning nuances of the game from one Raja and then from district coach Thangaraj. He is now trained by the present district coach Murugan.

His zeal for hockey earned him a berth in the district team. He became a regular for the district hockey team both at junior and senior level. He still cherishes his moments in the American College. His spectacular performances for the college team along with the other players elevated the college to the level of representing national hockey tournament for the champion colleges in New Delhi. He was also the college champion in athletics.

He was immediately called on to do duty for the State senior team. For four consecutive years he represented Madurai Kamaraj University. He had a role to play with the MKU, which finished fourth in the All India Inter-University Hockey Tournament.

In 1997, E.Mariya John Paul played a stellar role to help Tamil Nadu, captained by Md.Riaz, emerge winners of the South Zone Hockey Championship in Hyderabad.

"Half-line position is crucial for hockey. His exemplary performances as left-half has earned many accolades for him and victories for us" says A.G. Kannan, Secretary, Madurai District Hockey Association and a former player.

Born in a middleclass family, he now has the responsibility of feeding his father Enock Eliase, a retired railway employee, and his two brothers, who are seeking their employment opportunities.

But what irks him the most is the bitter experience he had with a State department team.

"I played as a guest player for the department team for almost eight years in response to their request. Generally the department absorbs such players into service. But they have nonchalantly jettisoned me after having used my services on the field. I have sacrificed many offers to represent State team just for the sake of the department match. But now I have been made a scapegoat," says Mr.John Paul.

"Though this incidence pains me a lot, I have no regrets now. If I get any permanent earning just to feed my family members, I would be grateful," he says.

He does not stop with this, he also runs a hockey club by the name Dass Memorial Hockey Club in memory of his physical education teacher in the American College, Mr.James Devadoss, who is no more.

"We have planned to mobilise funds for his well being. A lump sum will be donated to him," says Mr.Kannan.

T. SARAVANAN

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