Controversy and Hockey India, it seems, go hand in hand. The latest in the series is the appointment of observers for the men’s and women’s teams for forthcoming tours.
According to sources, among the three names forwarded by Hockey India for visa formalities is Asad Khan’s, joint secretary of the Uttarakhand Hockey Association and, more importantly, the son of Hockey India secretary Mohd Aslam. Asad would be accompanying the men’s team as an observer for the 12-test European tour, starting July 27.
While former goalkeeper Ashok Dewan would be going for the 6th Junior Women’s World Cup (Aug 3-16) in Boston (USA) in a similar capacity, Haryana’s OP Singh will accompany the U-18 girls team for the 2nd Asia Cup (July 20-26) in Shanghai.
While confirming the names, Aslam defended their selection. “Why is so much hue and cry being raised? Neither Hockey India nor the government will bear their expenses, they are going on their own,” he said.
“Uttarakhand has been allotted the National Village Games and hockey is the main discipline. The exposure will help Asad conduct the event well. Dewan’s interested in the Boston event because seven-eight girls of his team are in the national side,” Aslam said, adding, “They have requested to be observers at their own expense.”
Sources confirmed the move was a clear violation of Hockey India norms, which had decided to send only selectors and former players with teams. Dhanraj Pillay was observer at the Azlan Shah and Asia Cups, whereas selector Ashok Kumar was present at the Punjab Gold Cup. “I think former players and selectors should go with the teams as they can play the role of facilitators,” said Ashok.
Another national selector said: “Is Hockey India working for the game or trying to promote its near and dear ones? The Ministry should intervene and ask the respective embassies to stop granting visas to bogus observers,” he said.