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'Indian hockey has lost the way'


Pavitra Sazawal,CNN-IBN
Dec 20, 2006 at 11:02pm IST

New Delhi: Indian hockey lovers have had to hang their heads in shame in recent years. But at the Asian Games, the game hit an all-time low with the team failing to even make it to the semi-finals.

The carriers of the great Indian hockey legacy finally had enough on Wednesday and took to the streets to show their anguish.

Former Olympian Colonel Balbir Singh says, "They (IHF) have been running the body in an autocratic manner. And the poor planning, inefficiency - you can say they have lost the way."

Another Olympian present at the rally was Ashok Kumar. He says, "The way we are working, that is not the right way. You have to do a little more than that."

We have heard this before but we haven't seen these scenes ever before. Distraught by the way the game has been run in the country, they want the Indian Hockey Federation to be dissolved, and end the 12-year reign of KPS Gill as the boss of Indian hockey.

"We are against their system, the way of functioning. So, the talent at the lower level is still there. But there is no guidance at that level. You can produce the results if you can work at the lower level, but it will take some time," Balbir Singh adds.

Former Olympians were upset that not only is there a lack of direction, there is also a total lack of grassroot level initiatives by the IHF to revive the fortunes of the national game.

Indian hockey legend Pargat Singh says: "We have to strengthen our domestic circuit, and the sub-junior and junior levels. Because we can't change it within a year or so as it takes time to improve at the national and international levels."

It's been a dismal year, finishing 11th at the World Cup in Germany, unable to reach the semi-final at the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, and then Doha. Now they have to go through qualifying tournaments to make it to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

It was these former Olympians who had taken Indian hockey to incomparable heights. They are hurt by the levels to which Indian hockey has dropped, and also with the functioning of the Indian Hockey Federation.

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