In all the euphoria over the Commonwealth Games, Delhi seems to have forgotten about one sporting event, taking place in Delhi for the last 16 years — the Nehru Hockey tournament. Chances are that this prestigious event might be moved out of the Capital for good.
Forced out of the city due to the ongoing construction activity ahead of the CWG, all the five meets under the Nehru Society banner were conducted at different venues this year, with the last — the Champion Colleges tournament which concluded recently — being held in Gwalior. The successful completion of the event has given sponsors and organisers fresh options, and they are not averse to staging the event in other parts of the country.
“The tournament in Gwalior was better organised than Delhi. The Madhya Pradesh government backed us in the best possible manner,” said Nehru Society head Shiv Kumar Verma. When asked whether the event was on its way out, Verma sounded elusive, “To say yes would be sending out a wrong signal to the people in Delhi, but there’s no doubting the fact that in an effort to increase the popularity of the sport, we might think on those lines.”
Nehru hockey’s organising secretary Kuckoo Walia agreed that the event in Gwalior was a well-organised affair but added that Delhi would never go out of reckoning, “In Gwalior, we had better accomodation for players, the ground was in good condition, the astroturf was superb. Having said that, if we had our way, we would never go out of Delhi.
“The situation was such that we had to look for other options, and thankfully, Gwalior came to our rescue.”
Sponsors Steel Authority of India Ltd too were quite apprehensive about the tournament being moved to Gwalior. Said SAIL official Amardeep: “Our company was quite apprehensive initially but gave its nod since the other four tournaments were also organised outside Delhi (in Gurgaon).”
If the current trend is any indication then one might have to travel a bit more to enjoy quality hockey!