Monday, March 10, 2008

Hockey: National Game or National Shame?

The national sport of the country has hit the rock bottom. For the first time in 80 years, India has failed  to qualify for the Olympics. Its a sad fall for a country who lost only one Olympic match  between 1928 and 1964 capturing seven gold medals and one silver. Of their eigMajor Dyan Chand ht gold medals, six were won consecutively.

It needs no Rocket Scientist  to say that Indian hockey is in Death Throes.But what is Ailing our National Games?

Is it the Despotic rule of Indian Hockey Federation chief K P S Gill who has been in power for the past 12 years inspite the Sports Ministry's 1975  stipulation that no person shall contest more than 2 terms and it requires 25% representation by Sportspersons in Sports bodies. Aslam Sher Khan, a former Union minister and player-turned-selector says

"The entire selection process has been made into a farce. The IHF is nothing but a one-man show being run by Gill. Only God knows and Gill knows who will make it to the team"

Mr. Gill should take the "blame and responsibility" for the team's dismal run and stepdown from this Post. National Sports Federation should not becoming resting place for retired bureaucrats

Or is it the Glorious Administration of IHF? In the last five years, Indian hockey had more than half a dozen coaches namely Bhaskaran, Cedric D'Souza, C. R. Kumar, Rajinder Singh, Gerhard Rach, Jagbeer Singh, Vasudevan Baskaran and Joaquim Carvalho being the latest. Former Olympic captain and one of the best defenders of his era Pargat Singh says

''IHF needs to stop experimenting with the coach's post and should accept the fact that they have failed. Rather, they should form a former Olympians' panel and entrust the job of picking the coach to the panel,''

The selection of Indian Hockey team is always a Mysterious Exercise. For example, half the team was discarded from the team that won the Asian Games in 1998 within an year without any valid reason, India's four best forwards Gagan Ajeet Singh, Deepak Thakur, Prabhjyot Singh and Dhanraj Pillai were dropped for the 2004 Champions Trophy when in fact they were leading scorers for India in the previous edition of Champions Trophy

Lastly, The players are also very much responsible for the state of Indian Hockey right now. I sort of agree with their dissatisfaction due to  lack of support from media and Nation when compared to cricket.  India hockey Olympian Pillay says

"While cricketers these days get match fees, when we represent our country we get a mere $30 for expenses. Cricketers stay in five-star hotels, while hockey, football players as well as other athletes are put up in the stadium itself!

When Indian Cricket team won 20-20 World Cup, almost all the state govts announced awards but during the same time our football team won The Nehru Cup "First time in History". Our hockey team also  won the Asia Cup. One didn't of course witness mass euphoria and hysteria after these triumphs. The State Governments didn't announce any cash rewards for these sporting ambassadors.

It is time nation and its leaders give hockey and restore the pride of our national sports

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