It seems that the overage controversy that flared up in September during the Bhopal camp, where 48 of the 53 u-18 players were found to be overage, has hit Hockey India’s interest hard in age-group events.
According to the organisers, at the recently concluded U-17 Nehru Cup for girls, which was held in Gwalior and the U-15 boys tournament which is on at Shahbad, not one official or selector from the apex body was present.
Mohammed Aslam Khan, the Hockey India secretary-general, said, “There is little point in attending such age-group events. We had seen at the camp in Bhopal how junior players fake their age. We would rather concentrate on the senior events.”
The Nehru society, incidentally, is the only society among the many in India that organises national level age-group hockey events. Top schools from different states participate in it, making it a breeding ground for junior players. Aslam also emphasised that the Nehru society is a private society and the Hockey India officials are not expected to attend it. However, the Nehru society organising secretary, Kukoo Walia, said, “The tournament has been known for years as a feeder to the the national junior teams. It is the only one of its kind in the country. Besides, if the players are faking their age, and they are good, they can be considered for a higher age-group.”
Walia emphasised that in earlier editions, there used to be some representation from the apex body. “Someone usually used to turn up, but this time there has been no one,” he said.