Friday, 1 November 2019

Big Corporate Helps Emerging Teams

For as long as I've played sports, I have never once owned an Under Armour piece of clothing or equipment. I know that Under Armour is a popular choice for undergarments and high-performance sportswear, but I've never laid down money for anything they've produced. Part of that is that Under Armour is big into football and I never played football, but they're starting to work their way into the hockey scene after years of virtually ignoring the sport.

I am making mention of Under Armour today because there was a great story that hit social media today about how Under Armour supplied gear to India's national hockey teams. While it's not a surprise to see a major manufacturer provide gear to a country's national teams after a partnership is struck, what is unusual for Under Armour is that they are promoting and celebrating the Indian women's ice hockey team for overcoming some incredible odds through sheer will and determination to represent the country proudly at the 2017 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia!

Here is the story of the Indian women's ice hockey team!

If you know me, I usually don't celebrate corporations getting involved in anything because I feel that money compromises the purity of the sport at the level at which we see the Indian women. However, after getting the team started "on frozen lakes with homemade equipment and protective cricket gear in the mid-2000s," it was pretty clear that makeshift equipment wouldn't cut it at major international tournaments. The women, however, got better and were able to pick up some proper ice hockey equipment, and their hard work saw them advance to an IIHF tournament in the 2017 Challenge Cup of Asia where the team would finish a respectable fourth-place!

At the announcement of Under Armour's support for the team, captain Tsewang Chuskit told reporters, "As a team, we chose to look at every limitation as a challenge that we could take head-on. When we started out, there was no ice-rink, no equipment, no protective gear, no training facilities, but nothing seemed bigger than our will to form a team and represent our country. We lost all the matches in our international debut and it was difficult to motivate ourselves and one other to keep going, but our will was above all. We found a way to overcome every hurdle that slowed us down and decided to write our own destiny, making the nation proud."

While there was some corporate speak made by the Managing Director of Under Armour India, the fact that Under Armour has stepped up to supply both the men's hockey team and the women's hockey team with gear will go a long way in helping them take their games to the next level. While neither team is currently ranked by the IIHF, for a country with two indoor ice rinks and 16 outdoor rinks, getting this kind of corporate support helps immensely.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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