Why Indian hockey team wore black arm bands vs Pakistan during World League
Sport often transcends into something bigger than just on-field competition between individuals or teams. Sometimes, it is a platform to make a statement. Indian hockey team did just that against arch-rivals Pakistan in the Hockey World League semi-finals on Sunday.
The Indian team, that thrashed Pakistan 7-1, walked on to the Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Stadium wearing black arm bands. Even the Indian team’s support staff wore black arm bands to condole the deaths of Indian soldiers in recent militant attacks.
“The players of the Indian hockey teams have always shown tremendous belief and support for the Indian Armed Forces who guard the safety of our nation. Today, the team strongly felt the need to condole the recent attacks carried out in Jammu & Kashmir where Indian soldiers lost their lives,” stated Mohd Mustaque Ahmad, Secretary General, Hockey India.
“It was a unanimous decision to wear black arm bands to condole these deaths and they wish for peace to prevail in the state of Jammu & Kashmir.”
Indian hockey players have often taken to social media to condemn the attcks on Indian army. Even goalkeeper PR Sreejesh had dedicated India’s victory at the 2016 Asian Champions Trophy to the soldiers, where they beat Pakistan in the Final.
In a recent attack, six police officers and a soldier were killed by militants in Jammu and Kashmir.
Be it cricket or Hockey, the sporting relation between India and Pakistan have always suffered due to tension across the border.
Successive Indian governments have refused to play bilateral sderies with Pakistan and it is unlikely to change anytime soon.
Hockey is no different. In recent times, Hockey India (HI) – governing body of the sport in the country – took a strong stand against its Pakistan counterpart, saying that it won’t play any bilateral series with the arch-rivals unless the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) submits an unconditional written apology for the misbehaviour of its players during the 2014 Champions Trophy.
Pakistani players had taken off their shirts and made obscene gestures at the crowd after winning the semi-final against India. Following the match, Pakistan and India’s hockey relations soured.
Pakistan was also denied participation in the Junior Hockey World Cup in India. However, Hockey India said the sole reason for Pakistan missing the World Cup was their late visa applications.
With such statements and counter-statements, only time will tell when bilateral sporting ties between the two countries will resume.