The Indian hockey team is facing an acute shortage of shoes ahead of the final against Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy on Sunday, as most of the players have only one pair of shoes for warm-up sessions and matches.
Manjit Kullu, the left-halfback, has been playing with warm-up shoes after his only pair of turf shoes split into two. Playing with warm-up shoes is akin to running on ice wearing normal shoes and Manjit is lucky he has not injured himself till now.
The other Indian who is without turf shoes is Harpreet Singh. The turf is slippery at Ordos (China) and both the players are at constant risk of slipping. Both Manjit and Harpreet have just made it to the senior national team and it is difficult for them to afford the costly shoes.
Sources in the team said the shoes provided by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) were not of good quality. However, a top SAI (Teams) official said on condition of anonymity that, generally the federation procures consumables and gets the reimbursement from the SAI.
But in the present case, SAI's Bangalore centre, which had purchased surplus shoes during the 2010 Commonwealth Games, gave away a pair each to the campers.
“Each member of the team was given a pair each. But I have no idea about the quality. We will check the details of the company that supplied the consignment, and if the shoes are found to be sub-standard, appropriate action will be taken.”
Anupam Gulati, the Hockey India executive director, said, “Players usually have their own brand, we don't buy shoes. But we do give them playing kits.”