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Jan 23, 2008 at 10:19am IST

Women's hockey team suffers despite Chak De!

New Delhi: Sport persons in India often struggle against all odds unless they happen to be cricketers. They are expected to compete against the best and come out on top. A hue and cry is raised when they don't. But is it entirely their fault?

Chak De! India, a song and movie that electrified a nation. The Shah Rukh Khan starrer brought the previously neglected sport of women’s hockey back into the limelight. But a few months later, the Chak De effect seems to have vanished.

The Indian women’s hockey team had to undergo a nightmarish experience in the wintry chill of Delhi.

Back from a competition and training camp in Australia, the Indian women's hockey team was forced to spend the night at the shabby dormitory of the Karnail Singh Stadium in New Delhi.

Exclusive CNN-IBN pictures reveal the horrendous state of the place they had to stay in for a night — no clean blankets, dirty toilets, and 14 women stashed together in one room like sardines. Understandably, none of the players wanted to come on camera.

“The players were unable to sleep and recover from tiredness. They were asked to do physical work the next morning. The effect is much more on the players than us. Can anybody in any field survive or compete at the top level without being provided with proper facilities?” Kaushik says.

The team that is preparing for the biggest test of their lives — the Olympic qualifiers, was given the treatment that certainly isn’t befitting for the country’s best.

However, Secretary of Women's hockey Federation Amrit Bose says that there was nothing that they could have done.

“Arunachal Guest House agreed to give us the accommodation, but just one day before the team was due to arrive our booking was cancelled as the Guest House had no rooms available. They said that because of Republic Day, a lot more people come from the States. Therefore, we had to temporarily send the girls to the railway stadium [Karnail Singh Stadium], and the girls have been staying there,” Bose explains.

Accommodation of teams during national camps is the responsibility of the Sports Authority of India. Off the record, the officials agree that the dormitory was not up to the mark. But they say they had no option as the team flew in late on Sunday night. The team has now been shifted to what the Authority terms as a more decent place — Banarasi Das Chandiwala Sports Complex.

(With Rupha Ramani)