Hockey Coach Dominic Toppo: Dominic Toppo has produced more than 130 hockey players in the last two decades. Of these, 13 have represented the country.

Dominic Toppo, 71, at his hockey academy in village Kukda, near Rourkela.

Anon Hockey Coach Dominic Toppo: Dominic Toppo plays hockey for five hours daily at the age of 71. Dominic Toppo wakes up before the sun rises. They reach the hockey ground at 6:30 in the morning and leave at 5:30 in the evening. Dominic Toppo, a resident of Odisha, has been following this routine from morning to evening for the last 22 years.

However, the bigger feature of Dominic Toppo is that he has so far produced more than 130 hockey players. Out of this, 13 have represented the Indian team. To prepare the players, he sold his ration shop. Toppo sometimes cycled 40 to 50 km to search for players. He mortgaged 14 acres of land out of 15 so that he could collect hockey equipment for the children.

Dominic Toppo never played outside his village

The special thing is that Dominic Toppo himself never played outside his village, but in the last two decades, this anonymous hockey coach has prepared about 100 players at the state level. Retired midfielder Lilima Minj and Jeevan Kishori Toppo are among the 13 international-level hockey players produced by Dominic Toppo. Jeevan Kishori Toppo was part of the Indian team at last year's Junior World Cup.

Coaches like Dominic Toppo are essential for hockey: Dilip Tirkey

Dominic Toppo is one of those grassroots trainers who spend their entire lives in obscurity. Identify and nurture young talents and turn them into potential Indian sportspersons. Hockey India president and former India captain Dilip Tirkey says coaches like Dominic are vital to the ecosystem of the game.

Dilip Tirkey says, “When a young child picks up a hockey stick for the first time, it becomes the responsibility of the grassroots level coaches to inculcate interest in them and make them strong players. Dominic Toppo has done incredible service to hockey at his level. I am saying this not only because he has produced 13 Indian international players, but because his passion for hockey is unparalleled.

Dominic Toppo's hockey factory is different from modern academies

Dominic Toppo's Hockey Factory is a world apart from modern-day academies. Dominic Toppo says, My father used to play hockey, so I started accompanying him to the field as a child. Soon they started using sticks carved from bamboo. I was so good, says Toppo, that he used to run from post to post alone with the ball, dodging all the defenders. But there was no one to guide me. Perhaps this is the reason why Dominic Toppo's dream of playing for the Indian hockey team remained just a dream.

When his dream was not fulfilled, Dominic Toppo decided to make hockey champions.

Dominic Toppo explains, …and so I thought what if I can't play. I will ensure that other children do not suffer like me. At that point, I decided to start coaching to try and groom international players. That effort continues today.

Dominic Toppo will play hockey till his breath

Dominic Toppo says that it was because of hockey that his wife Isabella fell in love with him. Before marriage, Isabella used to bring me money from her aunt to buy hockey-related items. Isabella died after marriage due to illness. Isabella liked my playing, so I will keep playing as long as I have breath.