Following the hue and cry emanating from all over the country, the under-fire Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) has not only shaken up but in hurry trying to make amends by starting a talent search from the grassroots level.
Brigadier (Retd) Gulam Ahmed Siddique, known as a talent scout for the western region, has no qualms in doing something similar for the game in the wake of Indian hockey being termed a disaster by the Federation International de Hockey (FIH) president, Mrs Els Van Breda Vriesman recently.
Siddique, also the coordinator for the third Premier Hockey League commencing next month in Chennai, will conduct a two-day selection trial for players 15-18 years of age at the Army Institute of Physical Training (AIPT) and the PCMC stadium, Pimpri, on December 27 and 28.
"Following the guidelines issued by the IHF boys meeting, the laid down standard of running 2.4 km in eight and a half minutes besides having, of course, reasonable skill in hockey will be picked up to be trained at the national camp getting underway at Bhopal shortly", Brig Siddiqui said.
The Maharashtra Hockey Association (MHA) selection panel headed by Brig (Retd) Adi Irani, a former sub-area commander along with former IHF assistant secretary Victor Ellis , Benny Boodle, Kumar Agalgaonkar (Kolhapur) and Jehangir Shaikh (Solapur) will be assisting Brig Siddiqui in the selection.
Ellis said that the selection was to be held on Saturday and Sunday but due to Christmas it will now be held at the AIPT on December 27.
But most of all, Brig Siddique, a former joint-secretary of the IHF and chairman of the Army Sports Control Board, wants to live up to the army's honesty when it comes to age authentication.
"The boys picked will be medically examined for age by the ASI medical wing at Ghorpuri", said the Brigadier, who served as manager of the national camp for the Indian team at Rourkela, Orissa, ahead of the ill-fated Asian Games campaign.
This makes sense, given the age-fudging malady scourging the game for decades and one that in no small way has contributed to the deterioration of the national sport.
"I want to do my bit no matter what is said of the administration at the moment", said Brig Siddique.
"I am aware about Indian hockey being termed a disaster but the game must go on and we must keep planning to develop hockey", added Brig Siddique.
"The circle thus have been completed on their part Mr Gill and Mr Jothikumaran will claim that they have done their best. Was their best good enough for Indian hockey?" wondered a former icon.
"There is certainly a light at the end of the tunnel after the former players for once showed their solidarity to get rid of present regime . But it will certainly take super human efforts to put back the Indian hockey on the highest pedestal- where it belonged", said Brig Siddique.