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Harrowing time at the National Stadium

other Updated: Sep 25, 2010 03:16 IST
Shubhodeep Chakravarty
Shubhodeep Chakravarty
Hindustan Times
Harrowing

1.30 pm: Entry from gate number 3. Security check complete.

1.40 pm: Free-for-all access to pitch 2. Women's national team in full training mode.

2.00 pm: In walks Dennis Merilyth, the Sports manager at the venue and shoos away the small crowd of accredited personnel. The level of arrogance evident.

2.15pm: Venue managers march in to remove even people with accredited 'all-venue' passes from the premises. And then they say hockey is a dying sport in the country.

The level of lacking co-ordination amongst security personnel, venue managers, Press Information Bureau members and team officials at the Major Dhyan Chand National stadium was appalling on Friday.

With no clear instruction given to any of the security personnel or officials involved, the level of insecurity and the need to assert command was evident here. Take the instance of Merilyth. It took the manager a full twenty minutes to ascertain that the training session was out of bound even for accredited personnel. “I do not care about any accreditation. Training sessions are only for the team and they cannot be approached under any circumstances. You can watch the match from a designated spot only,” he told HT despite being absent from the field of play and adjoining areas earlier.

He was later replaced by venue managers who repeated the same high-handedness as they cordoned off the team despite it having finished its training. "Access to any part of the stadium is allowed only from the next month. You will have to leave immediately," said Vikram Malik, Director, Venue Operations who added he was following instructions from the competition manager.

Another official present at the venue confirmed the same saying there were specific instructions from Ajitpal Singh to disallow even accredited pass holders from entering the venue.

Given the sensitive location of the stadium, the emphasis on security is justified. To clear security access only to be informed later that the stadium is out of bounds for even accredited personnel on apparent instructions from the competition manager defies the sense of issuing accreditation in the first place. This especially a day after OC sent out a statement saying all competition and training facilities were open subject to security verification. Ajitpal though was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him.