Kulletira Hockey Festival, 2018, the 22nd edition of the festival involving the Kodava families. The family is all set to carry forward the rich tradition of Kodava hockey by hosting this year’s “Namme”. By hosting the festival, the Okka envisions to enhance the glorious hockey culture of Kodagu. The festival season in April/May is also time for introspecting their lifestyle and an insight into the cuisine and traditional values.
The Kulletira family has etched its name in the history of Kodava hockey in a magnificent way. The family has laid its hands on the winners trophy on three occasions in the past. It won the Kodira Cup in 1998, Ballachanda Cup (joint winners in 1999 and Chekkerra Cup in 2002. It secured third place in the Nelammakada Cup at Ammathi in 2001 and figured in the semis of the festival on three occasions.
The Okka has endeavoured to ready three playgrounds to host the matches in Napoklu. In a bid to do up the surroundings, the members have initiated steps to plant saplings around the venues to enhance greenery, says the Secretary of the Festival, Kulletira G. Nanaiah
Kulletira P. Mandappa (Shambhu) is the president of the Kulletira Hockey Festival
Kulletira A. Prabhukumar (Chengu) is the vice-president
Kulletira G. Nanaiah (Ajith) is the secretary of the committee
Kulletira M. Aruna (Beba) is the convenor
Kulletira S. Uthaiah (Prakash) is the Advisor
Kulletira C. Nachappa is its treasurer
Senior members, Kulletira K. Guruvappa and Kulletira C. Muthappa are in the advisory role.
Kulletira family is leaving no stone unturned to ensure the success of the hockey namme.
Coorg is said to be the cradle of Indian hockey. Once considered the national sport of India, Hockey is even today regarded passionately in Kodagu. It is not seen as a mere game of amusement but as important as a breath itself by Kodava children. Over 50 Kodavas have represented India in international hockey tournaments, including the Olympics. Among them M P Ganesh, Dr.A.B.Subbaiah, M. M. Somaiya, Baleyada Poonacha and C. S. Poonacha are some of the most prominent. Hockey teaches the players’ team spirit, selflessness, agility, resourcefulness and sportsmanship, these principles once learnt on the playing field are ingrained for life and enhance the personality and capabilities of individuals all round.
It was the British who introduced Hockey into Kodagu through the schools they established during the colonial period. The Kodavas being sportingly inclined enthusiastically took on this new sport. Pre and post Independence several amateur Hockey clubs existed across Kodagu, its teams playing competitive matches in tournaments across the district. Observing the decline in interest for Hockey and lack of community association, Mr. Kuttappa Pandanda, an erstwhile first division hockey referee and an ex-employee of State Bank of India conceived the Kodava Hockey Festival and commenced the same in the year 1997. Its 1st edition saw the participation of just 69 clan teams. Over the past two decades the same has increased close to 300 teams.
The Family Hockey tournament has become a much awaited annual social event in the calendar of Kodagu, with families cheering on their teams with much gusto. There is a festive atmosphere with stalls near the match venues, serving delicious Coorg food. There is no age or gender bar for participating in the matches, though of late, the tournament has become highly competitive involving high caliber hockey.
Any member from a Kodava clan can participate in this tournament and women hockey players are especially encouraged to be included in the team. Displaying the liberal and empowering nature of the Kodavas, a married women player can decide whether she wants to play for her father’s clan or for her husband’s. Team participation in the tournament has grown year on year and reached a pinnacle in the year 2003 during which 280 teams participated in the Kaliyanda Cup at Napokl.
Over the last 20 years of its existence, the Kodava Hockey Festival has attracted an audience from far and wide. It is a 30 day event, with over 300,000 spectators coming to watch the matches spread over 3 well laid grounds with stadia and conducted for morning till evening. Invitations for exhibition matches are sent to the top teams in INDIA, so as to enhance the quality of Hockey, this practice saw the PUNJAB 11 and the current INDIAN team play against the COORG 11 in 2 consecutive edition of the Tournament.
The Kodava Hockey Festival has already found a place in the Limca Book of Records, recognized as the largest hockey tournament in the world; it now seeks recognition in the Guinness Book of World Records.