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The van Ass family and their love for India | Hockey

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Seve van Ass settled down into a chair and looked around the practice pitch of the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium. “You know this is my eighth visit. I really like India,” said the Dutch hockey player.

Not just Seve but his entire family has a deep India connect. His mother came to India as an 18-year-old and has been returning ever since. His father, Paul, was India’s chief coach in 2015. Seve himself played in the now defunct Hockey India League (HIL) for Uttar Pradesh Wizards.

Also Read | Son of soil Rohidas revels in front of home crowd

“I have been to India once with my family as a tourist for three weeks and seven times as a hockey professional. That is a lot of times already,” laughed Seve. “It is always amazing to come back to India. I like the Indian culture. It’s way different than back home.”

It was in 2013 that Seve’s mother brought the family to India, to experience “the colour and vibe” as she had. The family spent three weeks travelling to New Delhi, Agra, Jaipur, Goa, Mumbai and Varanasi.

“It was during my initial years in the Dutch team. We had our winter break and my mother really wanted to share her experience of India with us. She did all the bookings. It was a while ago but it is still fresh in my mind,” said Seve, who made his debut in 2011. He has 204 international caps and helped Netherlands beat Malaysia 4-0 in Pool C.

Of all the places he visited, Varanasi left the strongest impression on the 30-year-old. Seve was overwhelmed by the spiritualism he saw and felt in one of India’s holiest cities.

“Old Delhi was really impressive, the Taj Mahal was really beautiful but for me Varanasi was an unbelievable experience because of the traditions, the whole learning of reincarnation, life, death and cremation and all the rituals around it on the banks of the Ganges,” said Seve.

On other visits too, he tried to squeeze in such trips despite lack of time. “If you’re here for hockey, you’re either training or seeing a lot of the hotel. But on off days I always like to go out and see as much as possible but gets difficult,” said the midfielder, who won silver at the 2014 and 2018 World Cups.

This time too before coming to Rourkela he took his teammates around Bhubaneswar where they are getting a suit tailored. “It was a great experience for us. We are not used to that kind of craftsmanship with the tailor picking a fabric and making a suit out of it. The guys were a bit hesitant at the start but eventually liked the experience. We will pick up the suits once we go back to Bhubaneswar. I really like the Indian suits (bandh gala) but not many occasions to wear it. It is probably going to hang in my closet,” he said.

While Paul is busy as coach of the Dutch women’s team, Seve’s mother and brother will come to Bhubaneswar to see the Dutch play.

India has also had an impact on Seve’s diet. He likes “naan, dal makhani and chicken curry”. “I like to eat vegetarian food as much as possible; in Holland, it is doable but not as tasty… I don’t know the names and recipes, but they are so tasty with so much flavour which you don’t get in Holland.”


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A ₹724 crore boost in union sports budget

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In the year of the Asian Games and qualifications for the 2024 Paris Olympics, the union sports budget saw a significant jump in allocation on Wednesday. The sports ministry has been allocated 3397.32 crore for 2023-24 – an increase of 723.97 crore from the previous fiscal. The budget for the previous financial year was 3062.60 crore (revised: 2673.35cr).

The Asian Games, postponed last year due to Covid, are due to be held in Hangzhou, China from September 23-October 8. India’s elite athletes have also started preparing for various Olympic qualification events.

Also Read | Sai Praneeth, Kiran George in men’s singles second round in Thailand Open

The allocation for National Sports Federations (NSFs) and Sports Authority of India (SAI) have gone up. Assistance to NSFs has been increased to 325 crore from 280 crore in 2022-23.

SAI has been allocated 785.5 crore, an increase from last year’s revised budget of 749.43 crore. It was originally allocated 653 crore in the last financial year. SAI oversees the preparation of national teams, manages national camps, provides infrastructure and other facilities to athletes besides appointing coaches, including foreign experts.

A big chunk of the sports budget will go for government’s flagship programme, Khelo India. It gets 1,000 crore, an increase of 400 crore from the revised allocation of 600 crore set aside for it in the previous budget. Under the scheme, Khelo India Youth Games and Khelo India University Games are organised. It has become the platform for talent identification and nurturing through its various schemes. The budget for Khelo India has steadily risen since its inception in 2018.

A major allocation of 107.84 crore has been made for the National Sports University in Imphal. Set up in 2018, NSU is a first-of-its-kind institution which imparts studies in sports science and medicine, coaching, sports management and technology.

The National Centre of Sports Science and Research, under which financial assistance is given to medical colleges and Universities to develop centres of sports science and research, has been allocated 13 crore.

There has been a 10 crore dip in incentives to athletes, from 55 crore last year. To fight the doping menace, the National Anti Doping Agency has been allocated 21.73 crore. The National Dope Testing Laboratory in Delhi, whose accreditation was restored by the World Anti-Doping Agency in December, 2021, gets 19.50 crore. A National Anti-Doping Bill was passed last year to create a statutory body for regulating anti-doping activities in sports.

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Sai Praneeth, Kiran George in men’s singles second round in Thailand Open

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Indian shuttlers B Sai Praneeth and Kiran George advanced to the second round of the Thailand Open Super 300 badminton tournament with contrasting wins over their respective opponents on Wednesday.

Praneeth beat Mads Christophersen of Denmark 21-13 21-14 in a battle lasting 31 minutes. He faces Hyeok Jin Jeon of South Korea in second round.

George, on the other hand, staved off a tough challenge from Lee Chia Hao of Chinese Taipei before emerging 21-17 19-21 23-21 victorious. He is up against third seed Cheuk Yiu Lee of Hong Kong in the second round.

However, Sameer Verma, Priyanshu Rajawat and Mithun Manjunath lost their first round matches. While Verma suffered 14-21 16-21 defeat against sixth seeded Chinese Shi Feng Li, Rajawat lost to Kwang Hee Heo of South Korea 21-14 19-21 25-27 and Manjunath was beaten 18-21 12-21 by fifth seeded Kenta Nishimoto of Japan.

In women’s singles, Ashmita Chaliha beat compatriot Anupama Upadhyaya 21-16 21-19 to reach the second round where she will face sixth seed Line Hojmark Kjaersfeldt of Denmark.

The pair of Simran Singhi and Ritika Thaker lost to sixth seeded Sheng Shu and Shu Xian Zhang of China 8-21 10-21 in the women’s doubles.

In mixed doubles, Rohan Kapoor and Sikki Reddy beat Canadian pair of Ty Alexander Lindeman and Josephine Wu 21-11 21-16 to enter the second round. But the pair of B Sumeeth Reddy and Ashwini Ponnappa lost to fourth seeded Indonesian pair of Rehan Naufal Kusharjanto and Lisa Ayu Kusumawati 11-21 17-21.

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Djokovic played Australian Open with 3cm tear in hamstring, says Tiley | Tennis News

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Novak Djokovic played with a three-centimetre (1.2 inches) tear in his hamstring during his run to a record-extending 10th Australian Open title, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday.

The Serbian, who suffered the hamstring injury en route to winning the warm-up title in Adelaide, won the season-opening major after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in Sunday’s final for a men’s record 22nd Grand Slam title, matching Rafa Nadal’s haul.

“This guy I did see, he had a three-centimetre tear in his hammy,” Tiley told SEN Sportsday. “Absolutely (I saw the scans), the doctors are going to tell you the truth.

“There was a lot of speculation about whether it was true or not, it’s hard to believe that they can do what they do with those kinds of injuries.

“He’s remarkable, to deal with it extremely professionally.”

Djokovic’s coach Goran Ivanisevic said after the final that the world number one battled the injury, which would have forced most players to quit.

“He’s so focused on everything he does, with every single minute of the day,” Tiley added. “That’s what he eats, what he drinks, when he does it, how he does it.

“There’s no breakdown or mental breakdown in anything that he does. He’s been through a lot and to win 10 Australian Opens, I don’t think that’s ever going to be repeated… He’ll hold a significant place in the history of the Australian Open.”

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