The whole purpose of Hockey India League (HIL) will stand defeated if the six Services players - still waiting to get clearance to play for their respective teams - don't get to play the inaugural edition of the HIL that commences on Monday.
What's the whole idea behind Hockey India League? That hockey gets its 'National Game' status back. That hockey is resuscitated back to life after hitting the nadir at London Olympics. That India's elite status as the 'eight time Olympic champions' doesn't remain confined to history books. That hockey comes out of cricket's shadow and reaches out to millions. That people get to know and meet the stars who lay coffins on the sidelines as they represent their country.
All of this will be defeated unless 'WE' act. It has to be collective effort. And if the Services Sports Control Board refuses to give clearance to Ignace Tirkey, SV Sunil, PT Rao, Jonny Jasrotia, Sukhdev Singh and Lavdeep Singh - India will be at loss while the foreigners will come, play, earn and leave merrily. While Sunil, Rao, Tirkey and Jasrotia are on the payrolls of Indian Army, Sukhdev and Lavdeep work for the Indian Air Force.
The 'WE' here refers to everyone involved in helping the HIL succeed and players' future prosper. 'WE' means the players, their families, friends, franchises, coaches, support staff and employers. And with everybody joining hands, there's no reason why Services should leave these six players to lick their wounds and not benefit from what seems to be a lifetime opportunity for every player part of the HIL. And it's disappointing to learn that it's the Indian armed forces at the centre of this - the department that wears heart on its sleeve to serve the nation. So what stops them from allowing their men or keep them waiting to help revive India's national game?
Tirkey has given his life to hockey, Sunil is India's most promising player, Rao has remarkably come up the junior ranks. Those guys not playing is the last thing Indian hockey needs at this moment - with the players guaranteed to learn playing alongside the best from around the world.
But what India certainly don't want is a blossoming career shattered into pieces by this impasse not culminating into a happy ending. It will be a black day in Indian hockey if a player like Sunil hangs up his stick and says "Thank you so much." Hope such a moment never arrives in Indian hockey.