Indian hockey has been embroiled in the club vs country debate ever since Hockey India (HI) dropped Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh from the national squad for playing in the Belgian League instead of attending the camp for Azlan Shah Cup. In fact, HI had also constituted a committee to decide on the disciplinary action against the duo.
During his visit to the city for the inauguration of the Senior National Hockey Championship, Narinder Batra, secretary-general, HI said playing in foreign leagues was not in national interest and that doing duty for the country came first.
Drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, reacting to Batra's comment said, "I will come rushing even at midnight if asked to play for the country," said the lanky player on the sidelines of the National Championship here on Monday. Sandeep said he and Sardar had planned to return in time for the Azlan Shah. "We (had) signed a contract to play in the (Belgian) league soon after the Guangzhou Asian Games, but we were also committed to playing in the Azlan Shah Cup," said Sandeep, who played for KHC Leuven Club in the Belgian league.
He said that they had informed Pargat Singh, chairman of HI's development committee, about their planned stint in Belgium and had been given a verbal approval. "We even obtained a no-objection certificate (NOC) from (employers) Haryana Police before leaving for Belgium," he said.
When asked, if he felt his performance in the nationals could go in vain if the HI's committee penalised him, he replied, "I am optimistic the committee will resolve the issue and I will be back in the team."