If you love hockey and are willing to pay a rupee, do it at a bank here. That’s how India’s women hockey players hope to get what is due to them.
And unlike the men’s squad who struck work to make a point, the women will wear a black badge to work (read: training) from Thursday.
All 41 probables of the Commonwealth Games core group and the World Cup in September will also contribute to a joint account here to help themselves and other women hockey players. Skipper Surinder Kaur, goalkeeper Deepika Murthy, Subhadra Pradhan and Mamta Kharab have paid Rs 1,000 each at a Syndicate Bank branch.
“All players have endorsed the idea,” Surinder Kaur told HT. Coach M.K. Kaushik too is okay with the protest so long as it doesn’t interfere with preparations.
“The players have long-standing dues since April 2008. They should be paid,” Kaushik said. “We also appeal to hockey lovers to donate for the sport and for players who are not getting proper support from Hockey India,” one of the players said.
Deepika said the squad has donated Rs 20,000 to goalkeeper E. Rajani to facilitate her father’s treatment for a kidney ailment. Rajani is a player from Andhra Pradesh whose family can’t bear the expense of treatment.
Justifying the decision to seek donations from the public, the four players said: “If every citizen of the country donates one rupee, the collected amount would be enough for the players.”
“We are equally concerned for the girls. If Hockey India has promised cash incentives for the boys, the girls will also get their due,” said Vidya Stokes, the HI president. “Today, the HI has given a representation to the ministry regarding this. We will also talk to Sahara India to release the amount for the girls team,” she added.
But she also made one thing clear that, “for giving cash incentives, we require money and for this we have to see our means also. But, in any case, the girls will not be deprived of their due. It's only a matter of time.” On the girls planning to wear black bands, she said, “Staging any kind of protest is not the right way to put forth the demands. In my opinion, whatever the senior men’s squad did was not good. One can’t blackmail the organisation,” said Stokes.
“The girls and the coach have my phone numbers, so it’s better they talk to me directly rather than approach the media.” The women’s team had a decent outing last year. They won the Champions Challenge Cup-II and were placed second in the Asia Cup.
With inputs from Saurabh Duggal in Chandigarh