Thousands watch India-Netherlands hockey final

February 9th, 2009 - 10:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Feb 9 (IANS) The high-adrenaline Punjab Gold Cup hockey tournament final between India and the Netherlands had more than 20,000 people rooting for the home team at the Sector-42 hockey stadium here.

Such was the enthusiasm that the spectators were on their feet for most of the 70-minute thrilling encounter, vociferously supporting the home team. But the crowd fell silent when India conceded a late goal in the 66th minute to go down 1-2.

Even the organisers of the tournament were surprised to see the crowd response.

“We never expected so many people to turn up. Most of them were standing as all could not have even sat down. The stadium was filled beyond its capacity. There were scores of other who could not get inside,” a Punjab sports department official said.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, 82, himself sat through the final match with his Deputy Chief Minister son, Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also Punjab’s sports minister, and other VIPs.

The crowd turnout would definitely give a boost to hockey, the country’s national game, officials said.

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