The Sports Ministry has cut to size the Indian contingent for the Asian Winter Games to be held at Almaty, Kazakhstan, from Jan 30. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) had sent a list of 25 players in three disciplines - ice-hockey, ice-skating and skiing - but the ministry put its foot down, clearing an 11-member skiing team.
The ministry also refused players to fund their own trip, a practice the federation had followed over the years. Confirming this, Akshay Kumar, secretary-general, Ice-hockey Federation, said: The ministry didn't clear the ice-hockey and ice-skating teams on the grounds of non-performance."
The teams' performance in the just concluded South Asian Winter Games at Dehradun and Auli wasn't encouraging. The ministry, it is learnt, had taken a serious note of it. "The players were willing to spend their own money for the Almaty games, but the govt didn't give its nod," said Kumar. The vice-president of the Winter Games Federation of India, RK Gupta, said "We will plead our case with the ministry again."
In the past, players in the ice-hockey team have raised funds to represent the country, but are yet to get their dues. Tsawang Namgail from Leh, who is employed with ITBP, represented India in the Dubai Challenge Cup in 2008, but is still struggling to get his dues.
The Federation brushed its hands saying the J&K govt was supposed to fund the trip.