With the 31st edition of the Surjit Hockey Tournament commencing on October 29, women continue to be a neglected lot in the game this time too.
Sample this: A prize money of `9.5 lakh has been allotted for the finalists. Of the total amount, `5 lakh will be given to the men’s winner team and `2.5 lakhs to the runner-ups. On the other hand, a paltry sum of `1 lakh will be given to the women’s winner team and `50, 000 for the runner-ups.
The Indian Oil Corporation will be the main title sponsor of the tournament as it has been in the past. The organisers announced the start of the tournament at a press conference on Monday. The tournament is organised every year in the memory of Surjit Singh Randhawa, a former Olympian.
When asked as why women team is given one-fifth of the prize money of their male counterparts, Pargat Singh, a former Olympian and working president of the Surjit Hockey Society, tried to pass the buck by blaming the society and sponsors for this.
“It is really sad that women are still discriminated against in our society. Frankly speaking, it is difficult for women to get into sports. I have been associated with this tournament for long and I know what has got behind to raise it to the level that it is today,” Pargat said.
Despite being a top office-bearer of the society, he expressed helplessness on the issue and chose to deviate from the point.
“The stereotypical mindset of the society where women is discriminated on a regular basis needs to change and then only our society will reach the pinnacle of prosperity. Even I am not happy with the prize money but it is hard to get sponsors for women hockey,” was his further response.
Notably, the organising committee of the society which conducts the annual tournament here gives prizes to audience based on a lucky draw to increase their participation.
The market value of the prizes distributed through the lucky draw is higher than the prize money that will be given to the finalist women’s hockey teams.