S.A.I vs. Hockey India – Is Hockey national sport of India?

3 Mar

Indian hockey team - sports authorities  killing Indian HockeyYou believe it or not Indian men’s hockey team is the most successful hockey team in the history of Olympics with 8 Gold, 1 Silver and 2 Bronze medals. On 26th February 2013, Indian hockey team was on the brink of opting out of the 22nd edition of prestigious 2013 Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Malaysia from March 9 to March 17. The Sultan Azlan Shah Cup is an annual hockey category A tournament, named after the ninth King of Malaysia Sultan Azlan Shah who is an avid fan of hockey. India has won the Azlan Shah Cup five times (1985, 1991, 1995, 2009, 2010) and were the bronze medallist in the 2012 edition of tournament.

The shameful situation aroused when Sports Authority of India (SAI) refused to bear the travel expenditure of the national team players scheduled to travel to Malaysia for the tournament. SAI who had initially given Indian hockey team, the go-ahead to hold the national camp for the tournament refused to bear the to and fro airfares stating that they have exceeded the budget. As the Indian players prepared for their travel to Malaysia, an eleventh hour letter was received by Hockey India(HI) on February 26, 2013 from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) which said the government will not bear any cost for the tournament. The Hockey India immediately reacted to SAI’s letter by announcing its decision to pull out of the Azlan Shah tournament.

HI officials alleged that SAI’s letter was a reaction to the police complaint made by HI officials against the security in-charge of Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium on February 24, 2013. The security in-charge of Dhayan Chand Stadium, Sanhsar Pawar was detained at the Tilak Marg police station after HI filed an FIR against him. According to HI, Pawar is a serial offender and always drunk during duty hours, he created a big scene by abusing many top officials of HI in inebriated state and refused to allow heavy vehicles carrying equipment used during the Hockey World League to leave the stadium premises without bribing him money or alcohol. However SAI completely denies this allegation, sports ministry secretary PK Deb said “We have an annual budget of Rs.5.94 crore for Hockey India but they crossed it. We have already spent Rs.11.27 crore. This is why SAI didn’t clear the case and forwarded it to us,”

Thanks to God that the matter was settled immediately with sports ministry now ready to pay 49 per cent towards air fare and rest to be borne by HI. The question to be asked here, is Hockey in India at all treated the way it should be, considering the fact that it’s also the national sport of India? Why either SAI or HI did not gave priority to India’s national sport? Why was their fight or the ego clash given more preference than the team India? Who has given rights to SAI for letting India down by not allowing our country to participate in category A tournament? Considering the fact the most of the expense except the travel cost was to be supported by Malaysia, is Hockey India by itself, which has just earned milliions from sponsors and recently concluded cash rich Hockey India League, not capable enough to sponsor the travel cost of Indian players? Hockey India wasted no time in announcing its verdict to pull out of the Azlan Shah tournament immediately after receiving a letter from SAI. If this is the way sports authorities take decisions for Indian hockey, then surely our national sport is in wrong hands and very much responsible for dismal performance of our team in recent past.

Are Indian sports authorities responsible for decline of Indian Hockey?

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