The Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ decision to ‘punish’ hockey for non-performance by downgrading its priority has been unanimously condemned by former greats of the sport.
What has shocked many is not the decision per se, but its timing. “The decision is shocking, but what is worse is the fact that this has been done when hockey needs all the support. They should not have taken the decision at least this year.
“We have the Beijing Olympic qualifiers next year and this decision will only act as a dampener,” said former Olympian and coach MK Kaushik. That may be true, given that India would be desperate to keep their record of participating in every Olympics so far intact.
In fact, when a clutch of Olympians decided to protest mismanagement in the IHF, their first step was to try and get the government involved in bringing some transparency. A group of well-known former players had also met Sports Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar and submitted a memorandum, demanding accountability from the IHF. But they would have never expected this fallout.
“This decision sends a very bad message to the team and the players. It’s almost like making another hole in a sinking ship,” said Ashok Kumar, star of India’s World Cup winning squad in 1975. IHF president KPS Gill may not give much importance to the decision. “I don’t think it’s going to have much of an impact…. It only means you will get less funds and we have not been getting much assistance anyway,” he said.
But with India scheduled to host the Commonwealth Games and the World Cup (both in 2010), this decision would definitely be a setback.