'I don't watch hockey, there's no skill' | india | Hindustan Times
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'I don't watch hockey, there's no skill'

india Updated: Jun 12, 2011 01:23 IST
Firoz Mirza & B Shrikant
Firoz Mirza & B Shrikant
Hindustan Times
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"To hell with hockey," stalwart Aslam Sher Khan had once said in anguish. So disgusted was he with the politics of the game in India that he decided to sever all ties with the sport.

His senior by many years and one of the greatest players Bhopal has produced, Inam-ur Rahman never pronounced a damning condemnation of hockey - his one-time passion that gave his name, fame and a good life. He simply cut his ties with the sport to such an extent that he didn't even watch a single match of the World Cup in Delhi last year.

The organisers of the Hockey India National Championship wanted to felicitate him during the inauguration ceremony but 'Inam bhai', as he is fondly called, avoided coming to the stadium.

"I don't like watching hockey even on TV. I watch golf, European football and cricket but never hockey. I don't see any skills on the field; today's players are like horses, they just run up and down," the 68-year-old told HT in a rare interview t his residence here on Saturday.

"We are responsible for this situation; our administrators were more interested in power, favouring players at the cost of team composition. Our coaches failed to adapt modern techniques and players don't have the passion for the game," said the former India left-in, who once came back on the field after receiving 14 stitches below the right eye during a tournament in Kolkata.

Inam bhai represented India in many international events and was part of the team that won bronze in the 1968 Mexico Olympics.

Today's India stars may not know much about Inam-ur Rahman, but they are reaping the rewards of a trend started by him in the early 70s.

Inam bhai was the first of the big stars who joined Indian Airlines when they formed a hockey team.

"I joined along with eight players from Bhopal; the city had so much talent and enthusiasm that they would play in the streets. Around 45 players from Bhopal used to play for various clubs in Calcutta. They never bothered about where they lived and what they earned."

He remained with Indian Airlines for nearly 18 years, playing, coaching and managing teams before retiring a decade ago. Taking a cue, many stars started joining institutional teams.

The trend continues and teams like Air India, Indian Oil Corporation, Bharat Petroleum and ONGC continue to pick budding players, providing them financial security as they chase glory.

Inam bhai, meanwhile, goes about his life, happy with his weekly three rounds of golf and dreaming of the good old days.

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