Hanson Field has been an integral part of Woodstock since it was created in 1938. It was eventually named after the legendary school athlete, Robert Hanson, who was a member of the United States Air Force. After he was declared missing in action after he downed 25 Japanese planes, the Field was renamed in his honor in 1945.
It has been used for various events, such as football matches and Sports Day, and was also home to the Indian military when they were stationed here to provide extra security. However, for a long time now, students have not been able to take full advantage of the field.
Rigpea Wangchuk, Class of 2020, has been playing football at the Hanson Field ever since he was in fourth grade. He feels that even though he did not have any personal problems with the field a lot of his teammates did. “At times it was frustrating as a lot of my friends were discouraged to play due to the rough fields,” Wangchuk said.
Similar views were expressed by the senior team football coach, Mr. Huten Ladlaliova, who expressed concerns about the field not being the optimal place to practice. He said, “It is extremely unfair when playing there as the two sides are uneven, so the team with the bigger half has to work a lot harder.”
“Even if a boy slips slightly they won’t be coming for practice for a week because the bruises would be bad,” Mr. Huten said.
Yuvraj Bhatia, Class of 2020, also said that the “ground is not even” and that renovation is required. “I have got many injuries playing cricket as the bounce of the ball is unpredictable due to the many stones in Hanson,” he said.
However, these worries are being addressed as the school made the decision to reconstruct Hanson Field. At the beginning of March, the school started the renovation project, and the field is currently being dug up.
Mr. Ajay Mark, head of sports department, said, “It was absolutely essential for us to change the field as we want to change sports at Woodstock.”
Mr. Mark also pointed out that, time and again, Woodstock students have attended soccer and cricket tournaments around India, “but we are never able to invite any of those school back to Woodstock as our field is not good enough.”
He also described the project, which will cost 3 million rupees, as “revolutionary” and a factor that will motivate a lot more students at Woodstock to join a sport.
“We are remaking Hanson in several ways,” Mr. Arjun Puri, the school COO, said. “As Hanson is located on a slope, we are relaying the topsoil as the field is subject to a lot of topsoil erosion and debris which comes down the mountain slope during the monsoon season.”
Although renovating the field will have many benefits, most of all, the complaints of the bruises and knocks will be significantly reduced as the whole field is being relayed with bermudagrass.
Several new blockades will also be constructed in order to stop the intense runoff the field goes through during monsoon.
“This will make the field much more usable when the students come back next semester, and it will not be a problem for soccer practices,” Mr. Mark said.
However, just like all great things, the field may take time to construct. “Our plan was to finish construction by March 31. But the adverse weather has slowed us down significantly. We now expect the grass to be planted by the first week of April. The field will remain unusable for 90 days after that to allow grass to propagate,” Mr. Puri explained.
“Even though we will not be able to use it till next semester, the wait will be worth it, I am sure!” Mr. Mark said. He also explained that neighboring Wynberg Allen has gone through a similar project and now has a great field which hosts many sporting events.
To maintain the field, the school will be installing hosepipes and sprinklers which will irrigate the field on a regular basis. “We will continue to engage with consultants to monitor the condition of the grass and the field in general,” Mr. Puri added.
Chittish Pasbola is a staff reporter
Edited by Janvi Poddar
Photo by Dhrubhagat Singh