India’s senior hockey players aren’t budging from their “no pay, no play” stand and will not resume practice on Monday. On Sunday afternoon, the 22 players at the preparatory camp in Pune rejected Hockey India’s (HI) proposals.
The proposals were made following a five-hour meeting with players’ representatives in New Delhi on Saturday. HI officials said the players’ stand amounts to “blackmail” but has offered to send a representative to Pune on Monday to discuss the issue.
“We are not happy with whatever Hockey India officials offered during yesterday’s meeting and, therefore, have decided not to practice on Monday. Our protest will continue till they agree to our demands,” India striker Prabhjot Singh told Hindustan Times over phone from Pune.
Prabhjot, skipper Rajpal Singh, Sandeep Singh, Arjun Halappa, Tushar Khandker and Sardara Singh met HI president A.K. Mattoo and other officials on Saturday.
HI, it was learnt, offered Rs 25,000 to each player as one-time compensation and leave the issue of salary and incentives to the committee that takes over after elections. The players rejected that as too less.
“We want more. Also, it is high time players get some concrete assurance over contracts and match fee. We have given so much to the country and will continue to do our best in future too and this is the least we can expect from the federation,” said Prabhjot.
“We are fighting for our rights and will not budge from our demands. We are merely asking for our incentives for the tournaments we won in 2009,” he said.
The players also want to have a word with representatives of the team’s sponsor, the Sahara group.
“We have told HI to arrange a meeting with the Sahara Group and asked the president (Mattoo) to come to Pune or select any other venue to meet the entire squad,” said another player on condition of anonymity since they have selected Rajpal and Prabhjot as spokespersons.
The players are also ready to face HI backlash. “They can take any action. At worst, they will throw us out of the team but at least future generations will be secure,” said the player who was part of the group that went to Delhi.