It was also a very emotional and fulfilling moment for the parents, some of whom work as vegetable vendors, autorickshaw drivers or labourers, to see their sons take a step towards making their dreams come true.
Rajkot District Hockey Association officials say this is for the first time that the entire state team is made up of of players from the district.
In December 2007, a selection camp for U-14 was held at Rajkot city, which saw the participation of more than 50 players from various districts. Of the 16 selected by the the Gujarat State Hockey Federation for Team Gujarat, 14 were from the city and two from Morbi town in Rajkot district.
Except for Manan Bhardwaj, the captain, most of these young players have little experience of playing on the astro-turf (synthetic surface). But that has only increased their enthusiasm, as till now, they have only had the chance to play on clay.
"It's a proud moment for us. We just want to go there and play and give our best performance," says Bhardwaj.
For lack of sponsors, 11 of them have had to arrange everything from bus and railway tickets to a good hockey kit, all by themselves. But for at least five players, members of the Rajkot District Hockey Association, including president Bhupendrasinh Jadeja, secretary Mahesh Divetia have taken the responsibility to ensure that young talents do not whittle away due to financial constraints.
Ashok Goyani, who often helps his father transport vegetable, dreams of becoming a top national player one day. With his family not in a position to churn out tour expenses that come to around Rs 2,000 per head, Bhupendrasinh came to the rescue. Same is the case with Karan Jograna, who would soon learn to drive the chakdo to help his father. His expenses have been borne by other members of the association so that he doesn't miss out on the golden chance of play at the national level.
According to Divetia it's a known fact that it's always a hard struggle for players who want to make it big in sports like hockey, which attracts little funds and sponsors.
The Rajkot District Hockey Association gets an annual grant of Rs 20,000 from the State Hockey Federation from which it is supposed to organise around 12 tournaments and pay the staff, as well. "But efforts of these bunch of young players seems to be paying off. They have been playing at the district and state level as a team and it's a great feeling to see all of them playing together as Team Gujarat," says Divetia, who is accompanying the team on this tournament.