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Status of Indian women's hockey: Overflowing goals, empty stands

The World Hockey League final between India and Poland was scheduled to start at 8pm. The venue Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi had more Polish supporters than Indian supporters at 7.30pm.

other Updated: Mar 17, 2015 13:36 IST
Abhimanyu Kulkarni
Abhimanyu Kulkarni
Hindustan Times
hockey,women hockey,india women hockey

Team India of the Indian Women’s hockey team beat 5 teams with exceptional scores, before they reached the finals against Poland at Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand Stadium.

Come 8 pm, the scheduled time for the final, and the stadium has more Polish supporters than Indians and there were a total of 11 Polish supporters.

Unfortunately this is the state of our national game where nobody seems to care even when the women’s team is earning us laurels and marking their spot on the world platform.

The tickets for the match were priced at Rs 20 (General) and Rs 100 (VIP Pass). As the match progressed, fans streamed in. By Halftime, there were about a hundred people in the VIP enclosure, but the general stands wore a deserted look. Tickets seemed to be the least of the worries for the organisers as hardly anybody bothered to check them. One could walk into the general stand without a ticket.

During the post match presentation ceremony, India skipper Ritu Rani said "I hope after watching us win on the home turf more girls will get attracted to the sport,"

But the question is, whose fault is it? Are the fans responsible for not paying enough attention to the sport? Or are the organisers not giving enough perks to entice people? Or is the bureaucracy to be blamed for not promoting the sport at the grassroot level?

"We had come for a couple of HIL (Hockey India League) matches and my 4 year old son enjoyed the experience. There was music, cheerleaders, announcements. Why is all that missing today?," says Arpit Taneja, who had come to cheer for India with his wife and 4-year old son Vardaan.

People often credit the rise of popularity of cricket in India to the 1983 World Cup victory. In the past one year Indian hockey has earned glory at Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Champions Glory and now the World League. Yet, these athletes are still searching for the fame they deserve.

With 2 mins to go on the buzzer, fans who had flown all the way for Poland were strumming plastic bottles to the beat of "Polski Polski". It's time that we lend similar support to sports other than cricket.

First Published: Mar 16, 2015 14:32 IST