Hockey India (HI) clearly has double standards when it comes to players’ interests.
While it has not officially made its stand clear over those players going to the World Series of Hockey (WSH), it has gone ahead and dropped former skipper Rajpal Singh, Ravipal, Arjuna Halappa and Vikram Pillay — who have confirmed their participation in the league — from the list of 48 probables short-listed for the London Olympics preparatory camp.
On the other hand, the federation has included around a dozen players, who have already joined the training camps of their respective franchises.
“This clearly shows HI's double standards. How can they drop some players and pick others? Rajpal, Ravipal and Vikram were in the earlier list of 33 probables, but don't find a place in today's list, while those who were never in HI's plans, have surprisingly been included,” said a former coach.
Goalkeeper Harmanpreet Singh, whose name figures in the latest list, will turn out for the Bhopal franchise. He has already reached Chandigarh for the inaugural WSH match on February 29. Nithin Timmaiah and Arjun Antil have joined the Karnataka team, while Ramandeep Singh has joined Chandigarh. Mandip Antil, Gurmail Singh and Prabhdeep Singh have joined the Punjab team.
“Gurmail and Prabhdeep are in the camp from Day One. The WSH is a lucrative league and the players have joined on their own will,” said former national coach Rajinder Singh Senior, who is now coach of the Sher-e-Punjab team.
“I would not like to comment on who is and who is not in the list of probables released by HI today,” he added.
The move to increase the number of probables from 33 to 48 is being seen as a last-ditch effort by HI to wean away the players from WSH. The lure of representing the country at the Olympics could be the magnet to bring players back into its fold. Meanwhile, HI has also announced two national camps for the 48 short-listed players. The one, which will start on March 5, will feature mostly juniors, while the one commencing on March 15 will predominantly be for the seniors.
The team comprising juniors will play in the four-nation tournament in Lahore while the other will participate in the test event in London in April.