Pillar of Hockey in J&K

Rajesh Dhar
The budding sportspersons of Poonch and adjoining areas would surely be missing the services of Sham Lal Sharma, retired Hockey Coach from Sports Authority of India (SAI), who also happened to be the Treasurer of Hockey J&K and had the distinction of achieving the sobriquet ‘Pillar of Hockey in J&K’ as he breathed his last while returning back from a Hockey tour along with some players, meeting  a tragic accident near Poonch on          February 5, 2018.
Sham Lal was simply married to sports- a dedicated, devoted and determined sports promoter, who even went to heavenly abode while carrying a sports activity.
The custodian of Power House Hockey Club Poonch, Sham Lal had the honour of producing a huge number of hockey players from Poonch who represented the State at the National scene.
He had been instrumental in helping the State to script victories at the higher levels as a player and also as a coach.
Late Mr Sharma had started his sporting career as a player in 1968 and represented the State in National School Games in the same year.
Representing the State five times in the National School Games, Mr Sharma had the honour of captaining the State team in 1972, besides representing the Combined University team in 1974.
After joining J&K State Government as Physical Education Teacher in 1976, Mr Sharma continued to represent the State in Senior Nationals, before opting for NIS in Hockey from NS NIS Patiala in the year 1978-79.
He had the honour of coaching J&K Hockey team in All India Rural Sports in the year 1982, winning silver medal, before resigning from the State Government and joining Centre Government as SAI Hockey Coach.
In the year 1986, Mr Sharma had qualified National Umpiring Test and had the reputation of introducing Women Hockey in District Poonch, besides being awarded with gold medal in 1994 during All India Indra Gold Hockey Cup for his outstanding contribution in J&K Hockey.
Sham Lal had also the distinction of coaching J&K Under-14 team which won bronze medal in National School Games in the year 2002.
Mr Sharma was awarded with an appreciation letter and a cash prize from Sports Authority of India for his excellence as coach. In 2011, Sham Lal was deputed as a Technical Observer in the Men’s Hockey World Cup by SAI held at New Delhi, while in 2014, he was deputed as special guest by Hockey India in Junior Hockey World Cup held at the National Capital.
Around 600 players under his coaching and guidance have represented Jammu and Kashmir in Nationals under various age groups, besides 4 of his trainees have done Diploma in Hockey from NS NIS Patiala.
After serving for long 38 years, Mr Sharma had retired as Senior SAI Hockey Coach in 2014.
Meanwhile, to pay tribute to late Hockey Coach, a  candle lighting programme was organized by Power House Hockey Club Poonch at Sports Stadium Poonch, which was attended by a large number of people from sports fraternity.
The players of Power House Hockey Club Poonch and other hockey lovers have appealed the State Government and the concerned authorities to make a statue of late Sham Lal Sharma at Sports Stadium Poonch in recognition of his immense contribution in the field of Hockey.
Sham Lal is being survived by his three sons namely  Dr Bubishan, Pawan Kumar Sharma (BCCI Accredited Trainer) and Lecturer in Physical Education and  Mukesh Sharma, SAI Hockey Assistant Coach.
“Sheer-dint of hard work, sincerity and loyalty with coaches and mentors was the success ‘mantra’ of our Papa (Sham Lal) in sporting field,” said Pawan.