Hockey India’s (HI) threat seems to have finally worked on the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), which withdrew its women’s team from the Indian Hockey Federation-organised National championships, scheduled to commence in Bangalore from Tuesday.
The team was supposed to board the train on Monday evening, but after HI secretary-general Narinder Batra issued a warning that players competing in tournaments “not recognised by HI” could face bans, the RSPB withdrew from the tournament.
The international hockey body (FIH) too had recently warned players not to compete in un-recognised tournaments and Batra, armed with the mandate, threatened players with disciplinary action.
The RSPB officials have reportedly told their players to attend the national camp, underway at the National Stadium, from Tuesday. “All Railways players have been asked to attend the camp,” a probable told HT.
Talking to HT, Batra said, “The purpose of conducting the camp is to prepare the team for the upcoming competitions including the Olympic qualifiers. By not attending, the players were making a mockery of the camp.
“If some players want to spoil the show, it’s fine. But HI should not be blamed if the national squad is unable to win a berth for the 2012 London Games.”
The HI top official, in his letter, had asked RSPB the reason for not sending players for the camp. “Is national duty more important than a tournament that doesn’t have any status?” Batra asked the RSPB bosses.
HI has the full backing of the FIH, while the sports ministry recognises IHF as the sole body responsible for the affairs of the sport in the country.Initially, the women’s camp was scheduled in the second week of March, but RSPB officials requested HI for postponement, as the players were busy with departmental competition.
But even after the conclusion of the meet, the players remained absent.
Batra has also marked letters to the sports ministry and the Sports Authority of India (SAI) on the developments in the camp, but has yet to “get any response”. “India’s first major test will come in the Champions Challenge in Dublin this June,” he added.
With the RSPB withdrawing from the Bangalore meet, the National championship has received a huge blow, as Railways were favourites to lift the trophy.