Ashok Kumar, Vasudevan Baskaran and Baljit Singh Saini have, among them, won pretty much everything men’s hockey has to offer. On Friday, they said even in defeat Pargat Singh had won them over. “The 21 votes Pargat won was his victory,” Baskaran, captain of the last Olympic gold-medal winning team, told HT here. “Pargat showed the willingness to fight politicians and that should spur more former players to do the same, myself included,” Baskaran said. Pargat lost to 83-year-old Vidya Stokes, a career politician, in Thursday's election.
At different times through the day, Kumar and Saini echoed Baskaran with Saini adding that it is important for ex-players to become administrators. “It isn’t as if non-players and politicians don't make good administrators but if you have played the game, come through the ranks and have a knack for this, you would help the sport more," said Saini, member of the 1998 Asiad gold-medal winning team.
“But I knew what the result would be long back,” Baskaran said. To that Kumar, Dhyan Chand's son and scorer of the matchwinner in the only World Cup India have ever won in men's hockey in 1975, added: “Be it general elections or that of a sports body, Pargat's defeat (to Vidya Stokes for the post of Hockey India president) again showed that it is contacts and money power win you votes, not your ability.”
And what kind of elections were these anyway with cradles of Indian hockey like Tamil Nadu, Mumbai and Karnakata being unrepresented, Baskaran asked. “The government should immediately appoint a committee comprising former players to look into this problem.
Kumar said administrators have serially ignored hockey at the grassroots, choosing to focus only on the "upper, five-star level" of the national team.
"Even football, where India is ranked in the 130s, looks after its players better. When it comes to organising domestic events, football does a better job than hockey," Kumar said.