Former Olympian Mukhben Singh has questioned the level of dedication among the current crop of hockey players and advocated scouting of talent at the grassroots level to improve the standard of sport in the country.
"I don't see a ray of hope for the improvement of hockey in India since neither the two existing hockey federations are going to join hands for promoting the sport nor do present-day players have much dedication for hockey, which players in earlier times had," remarked Mukhben, who was part of three Olympic gold winning teams.
"The players nowadays do not want to indulge in any hard work on and off the field to improve their performance. They consider practice as a burden while earlier players always practiced whenever they got time," said Mukhben, who originally hails from Batala.
The former Olympian is in the city to attend the opening ceremony of All India Sahibzada Ajit Singh hockey tournament at Prithipal hockey stadium of Punjab Agricultural University.
Clearly an admirer of another Olympian Prithipal Singh, he said, "I have always been a keen follower of Prithipal both in personal and professional spheres. I admired him a lot, for his style of hockey as well as the way he wore his turban. He was among the greatest players of Indian hockey who began practicing even during midnight hours, which is lacking in the youths of today," Mukhben added.
"Youngsters now practice half-heartedly only and feel relieved once the practice session gets over. They take practice as burden, which can never bear fruits. So, true dedication and devotion are necessary to bring a revolution in the Indian hockey," he added.
Asked about the ways to improve hockey in the country, the former Olympian said, "In a big country like India, hockey federation officials can get real talent mainly in villages; to scout for talented youngsters, they will have to watch league matches from the lowest levels to see which players are playing well and then groom them."