“National Stadium?” “Pata nahi,” reply most auto drivers. But when one corrects you and says, “Apko hockey dekhne jana hei Dhyan Chand Stadium mein,” one can make out a true fan.
For 48-year-old Vinod, hockey is his passion. Every night he tries to reach home early to catch the dying moments of India’s Olympic Qualifier matches. “(Michael) Nobbs’ team should be able to make it to London but the women’s team must win Friday’s game to even be in contention for a berth,” he says as he stops at a signal. “After our 2008 humiliation, one of the teams must make it to London. Else, it will dent India’s pride.”
Asked why he isn’t at the stadium to watch the match live, Vinod said, “I can’t afford to pay so much. Plea-se ask the organisers why they’ve priced the tickets so high. If one is trying to promote the country’s national game, shouldn’t they have thought of the aam admi? Many people want to come for the matches but it’s beyond their budget,” he stated.
One has to shell out Rs 500 for a seat opposite the grand stand and Rs 300 for one behind the goalposts. Hockey India (HI) has slashed the Rs 300 tickets to Rs 10 for students for the matches on Friday and Saturday. However, the student-friendly tickets for Wednesday’s matches didn’t have the impact the organisers were hoping for. In fact, the 2010 Hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games tickets were priced lower and saw many fans in attendance. “All the gate money goes to HI and it’s the hosting organisation that’s decided on the ticket prices. We had nothing to do with it,” FIH sources said.
“Please request the organisers to make it affordable,” was Vinod’s appeal after reaching the destination. Is anyone listening?