In cricket’s moment of glory, hockey sulks
The national hockey coach lambasts the Govt for treating the hockey team like orphans, reports Uthra Ganesan.Updated: Sep 27, 2007, 13:09 IST
Joaquim Carvalho could not have chosen a better — or worse — moment to vent his frustration at hockey being ignored in the country.
Even as the victorious Indian cricket team was felicitated and showered with untold of prizes, in cash and kind, the national hockey coach lambasted the state governments for ignoring the national sport and treating the players like "orphans".
"Why are our hockey players, who won the Asia Cup, being treated like orphans and why are our politicians biased against hockey?." He also claimed that coach Ramesh Parmeshwaran, team manger RK Shetty and four players would go on a hunger strike in Bangalore.
<b1>A claim that might have been impressive, if only it had not come at the wrong time. With the entire nation going ecstatic over the Twenty20 World Cup triumph, Carvalho's comments seem more a case of headline-grabbing antics that anything else. Add to that the fact that the Indian Hockey Federation has completely distanced itself from the issue, and it makes even little sense to rake it up at this point.
IHF secretary K Jothikumaran said, "It is his personal view. I have talked to Shetty (also the Karnataka State Hockey Association president) and he has denied any such move". IHF president KPS Gill also professed ignorance of the development. In fact, Jothikumaran also revealed that the Asia Cup winning squad would be given an incentive of Rs 1 lakh each, even though it was became public only on Wednesday.
Interestingly, of the four players named — Vikram Kanth, Ignace Tirkey, SV Sunil and V Raghunath — three are playing in the German league, completely unaware of the 'drama' back home. Also, 'protesting' in Karnataka by players of a particular state, for a national sport, appears illogical. Also, even though Carvalho announced the hunger strike, there was nothing on himself being part of it.
There is no denying the fact that hockey continues to languish in the country. At a personal level, most players do feel biased against by the powers-that-be.
"Cricket is not an issue. In fact, cricketers can get even more. But we do expect some recognition for our achievements also from our states. At the same time, we know that consistent results will help bring back the attention," is the general feeling.
No doubt, cricket is more than just a sport in India. The welcome extended to cricketers may appear unfair, but there is no denying the fact that a world title, in any sport, is big. At the same time, it does seem incongruous that the only reward for winning the Asia Cup happens to be a mere Rs 50,000 for the entire team — in addition to the Rs 1 lakh — for what is our national game, and used to be our sporting pride, once upon a time.
But, with Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel promising "suitable reward" for Asia Cup-winning hockey players employed by Air India, and Karnataka also announcing a cash award of Rs 2 lakh each for every player and coach from the state, Joaquim's antics seem to have made an impact.