For those of us who follow hockey in this subcontinent, the apathy of those supposedly steering the game in India is only to be expected. If blame has to be apportioned for this sorry state, let this not be heaped on the players.
There are millions like me who love hockey. Are memories so short that we can’t remember the thrilling 1982 World Cup quarter-final at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, where we lost by the skin of our teeth to Australia? Or how we shifted loyalty to Pakistan in the final, and sat shocked and silent as West Germany scored first, then, cheering as one, goading Hasan Sardar as he took the ball at the half-way line, and slowly, teasingly, broke into a Maradona-esque run right through the leaden-footed Germans, cutting into the ‘D’, darting left of a stumbling keeper and, with the most delicate of back flicks, floated the ball into the back of the net.
I was one of the guys in the stadium who whistled his head off when Pakistan routed the Germans 4-1, in what many say was hockey’s equivalent of Brazil trouncing the Italians in the 1970 Football World Cup in Mexico.
Equally, millions like me have sat by helplessly seeing hockey player after hockey player good enough to walk into any team in the world shown the carrot and being forced to eat the stick. The game in this country must be in the hands of former players of distinction and those among them who have expertise to offer. Throw the others — politicians, bureaucrats, retired officers etc — out. From Zafar Iqbal and Joaquim Carvalho right down to the much younger Viren Rasquinho and the present team, we have enough evidence of articulate persons who can only bring good to the sport.
Hartman de Souza is a theatre veteran based in Pune
The views expressed by the author are personal