Playing hookey with hockey

Who's to blame for hockey crisis? Players or management?


Prasanna Mohanty | January 15, 2010

Indian Hockey Team
Indian Hockey Team

Indian hockey is in a mess, once again. This time it is the Hockey India, an ad-hoc body set up in April 2008 to take the game out of a new low it had slumped into when India failed even to qualify for the Beijing Olympics, which is to be blamed.

Less than two months to go for the hockey World Cup to be held in New Delhi, the players have gone on strike, refusing to participate in the training programme. They are protesting against non-payment of their salary and allowance ever since Hockey India replaced the disbanded Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) nearly two years ago.

The Hockey India management is, instead of resolving the issue immediately, accusing the players of giving precedence to money over their patriotic duty and pride in playing for the country. Here we must point out that unlike the cricketers, hockey players are a poorly paid lot with no star value or endorsement assignments. They get a paltry sum of Rs 25,000 per tournament (as against Rs 1.6 lakh a cricketer gets for playing a single ODI/T20 match and Rs 2.5 lakh for every Test match) and a small daily allowance.

Their plight is understandable. What is not is Hockey India's attitude. It was mandated to bring transparency in the management of the game and democratise the IHF, which had become a personal fiefdom of K.P.S. Gill, by holding elections by the end of 2008. It has failed in both (elections are now scheduled for February 7). Worse, instead of making the game more lucrative and paying salary on time, it is threatening to replace the striking national players with juniors for the World Cup.

Where is your patriotic duty and pride in running the national game, Hockey India?



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