Some hundred days back, disaster struck Indian hockey. For the first time in history, the team boasting of eight Olympic Games gold medals, could not qualify for the quadrennial event. Even as the world will celebrate 100th year of the game’s existence in the Olympics, India find themselves in wilderness.
But in the last three months or so, has the nation done enough to ensure that a calamity of this magnitude doesn’t recur? Are things moving in the right direction now? The answers leave one with a feeling of ennui.
After a ‘sting’ operation exposing the ‘cash-for-selection’ scandal did the trick, 50 days were lost in evolving a consensus on suspending the Indian Hockey Federation. Another 10 days went into the constitution of the Indian Olympic Association ad-hoc committee, although a selection committee — consisting only of former Olympians — was formed on the day of the IHF’s dissolution.
Since no one in the ad-hoc committee has contributed much in lifting the profile of the sport, the composition does not enthuse many. Though, there is some ‘ray of hope’ as Mohammed Aslam — an IOA functionary — has some hockey ‘experience’.
He was manager of the team during the forgettable Alps Cup in 1993. Coach Zafar Iqbal’s team drew Austria in the league before managing to defeat them in the final via tie-breaker. Aslam, therefore, is expected to know where our hockey stands now!
When K.P.S. Gill was seeking a second term in office in 1998, the Chandrasekhar-Jesudanam group looked set to unsettle him. But Aslam, the then president of the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Association, tilted the balance in Gill’s favour, leading to his unanimous re-election. The IHF president then offered Aslam the post of secretary, which the latter politely turned down. Gill then declared M.S. Balakrishan as the secretary only to revert to his nemesis K. Jothikumaran an hour later.
Seven years later, Aslam again came to Gill’s rescue by arguing in favour of the super cop in another AGM. Now, the time has come for him to shed the past and do justice to hockey. But both Md Aslam and the selection committee chairman, Aslam Sher Khan, are yet to make a unanimous policy statement on perception and progress. Unfortunately, like the ad-hoc committee, all five members of the selection committee are yet to sit together. In the five informal meetings held so far, Dhanraj Pillay has not come even once.
A couple of days back, when probables for the Hyderabad camp were shortlisted, both Aslam and Pillay were absent. More striking is the fact that none of them visited Sonepat where a 15-day camp was held, but still they were ready with the names for the Hyderabad camp!
The committees ought to assure the nation they mean business.
Ten areas of concern:
1. Appointment of Ric Charlesworth as chief coach
2. If not, then his exact role in India
3. Appointment of coaches for age categories
4. Confirmation of the 2010 World Cup
5. Selection policy announcement
6. Training policy announcement
7. Player incentive schemes
8. Streamlining domestic tournaments
9. Timeframe for handing over administration to new IHF.
10. Confirmation of PHL continuation