The decision of state sports department of excluding national game hockey in the state-level college wing trials did not go down well with the hockey fraternity in the city.
This year, trials were conducted in Jalandhar and Ludhiana on July 2 and 3, respectively for athletics, boxing, gymnastic, judo, weightlifting, wrestling, cycling, volleyball, and swimming. As many as 200 players from across the state were also selected during these trials.
Now, one might wonder, why the national game has been kept out for trials, whereas there were 24 seats each for girls and boys category for hockey under the same trials last year.
According to an official from the sports department, "Given the fact that hockey is already a well-established sport in the state, and has laudable records in the country, the recent move might have been taken to focus upon games which do not have similar standings or popularity at the national level."
While criticising the move, a hockey enthusiast in city said: "The sports department invested Rs. 7 crore on building the Astroturf at Punjab Agricultural University campus, but what is point of such huge investment if the ground is not used properly?"
Hockey promoter and executive member of Grewal Sports Association, Jagbeer Grewal said, "After playing the game at school-level, players who want to pursue hockey professionally, have high expectations from college residential wing trials. Players, especially who come from rural areas, cannot afford to get trained at private institutions by spending large amount of money."
"Apart from getting trained under the guidance of professional hockey coaches, the college residential wing scheme also provides accommodation, meal and training equipments expenses for the selected players for an entire year. These players also get concession on college fees and admission under sports quota. "The move will certainly hamper promotion of hockey in the state,"added Grewal.
Sukhbeer Singh Grewal, hockey Olympian, said, "Seven players from Punjab alone are playing in the Indian hockey squad in Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Among them, Aakashdeep Singh and Harjot Dhaliwal are products of Ludhiana-based Malwa Hockey Academy. Hockey and basketball are the only two team games where the state has done well at the national level. Authorities concerned must conduct trials for these sports."
"I have just completed my Class 12, and considering my performance in the past 10 months, I was hopeful that I'll be selected in the college wing trials, but now I feel disheartened to know that there will be no trials for hockey,"said Surjeet Singh, a trainee hockey player at Malwa Hockey Academy.
Tejinder Singh Dhaliwal, director, Punjab Sports Department, said, "We are having fund crunch now. As soon as we have sufficient funds at our disposal, we will conduct the trials for hockey and other team games."