'Decision to punish hockey childish'
Former Indian Olympians termed the government's decision to remove hockey from its "priority" to "general" category as a "childish act" and asked sports minister Mani Shankar Aiyar to review it.
"It is illogical and a childish act on part of the government to take such decisions," former Olympian Gurbux Singh told the agency.
"It is a very unfortunate decision, keeping in mind that in we have performed badly only in the recent past. It will not help the cause (of restoring glory) and will only degrade the standard of the game in the country," said Gurbux, who is also a national selector.
Sports Minister had on Wednesday announced in the parliament that men's hockey has been "demoted" from the "priority" to the "general" category because of the continuous poor performance of the team in all major tournaments in the recent past.
Interestingly, the decision to shift priority from the men's hockey came on a day when India was looking for a turn around and made it to the semi-finals of the ongoing 16th Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Malaysia.
India will be hosting the hockey World Cup and the Commonwealth Games in 2010 and Gurbux said that the government's decision could affect India's chances in both the tournaments at home.
"If some people had problem with the India Hockey Federation (IHF) they could have set up a body and taken stern decisions accordingly. But this is not a way to treat a game that has given the country a lot of pride," he said.
Former captain Ajit Pal Singh went to the extent of saying that "at a time when even the Prime Minister says that performance in hockey has to improve to win more Olympic medals, this decision just amuses us."
"Hockey has been the most successful sport in India. Is this the way the sports ministry wants to treat hockey?" asked Ajit Pal.
"There are 120 countries playing hockey and we are eighth in the ranking. This is not a right decision. The ministry can't help Indian hockey by stripping all its support," he said.
The former players want the government to review the decision and support in taking the sport back to its glorious days.