destination india

Monday, February 07, 2005

advantage indian hockey

At last it is official – cricketers have been called upon to lend their charisma to pull Indian hockey out of the deep rut in which it finds itself.

The golden era of Indian hockey was when India bagged the gold in the 1928 Olympics and managed to retain the number one position till 1956 with subsequent brief recoveries in 1964 (Tokyo) and 1980 (Moscow). The complete story of Indian hockey is a tale in apathy, as it were. For the last 25 years, our teams have been unable to prove anything except, probably, the fact that we are excellent losers, that our bureaucracy is as crazy as they come, and that we do not mind spending crores and pretending to boost this beautiful game when in reality what we are doing is creating golden opportunities for unscrupulous elements to flourish and reap the benefits. Therefore, organizing the IPL (Indian Premier League) Hockey matches appear to be a silver lining in the dark and ominous clouds that cover the sports skies in India. A positive step in the right direction. The names assigned to the ten participating teams reveal innovativeness of a high order. Whoever thought of these exotic names deserve praise –

Tier – I - Sher-e-Jalandhar, Bangalore Hi-fliers, Hyderabad Sultans, Maratha Warriors and Chennai Veerans
Tier – II – Chandigarh Dynamos, Delhi Dazzlers, Lucknow Nawabs, Imphal Rangers and the Bengal Tigers

To return to the advantage part – it is heartening to see our cricketers ‘reveal their true colors’ (as the wordings of the sponsor goes!) to promote a game that seems to be slowly but surely heading towards oblivion. We, who taught the game to the Westerners, are now struggling to return to a level of reckoning.

Unfortunately, monetary incentives need to be considerably increased. From news reports it seems that the monetary packages are of the order of 4, 2.5 and 1lakh rupees respectively for the first, second and the third spots!! The top scorer will get Rs 50 thousand and the best player Rs 76 thousand.

There needs to be a serious rethinking on the feasibility of promoting this game with such meager allotments. Compared to what our cricketers earn, these appear to be chickenfeed. In order to appear as International competitors, finance is a very important factor. Where individual landmarks are concerned (like Sania Mirza, Narain Kartikeyan, Viswanathan Anand etc.), those who have the ability to practice in international surroundings obviously have better chances of making it big. Our cricketers play in the British leagues and earn valuable experience that they cannot expect to acquire elsewhere. Such experience works wonders to their achievements. Why don’t others emulate such ideas?

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