Mumbai: Two-time Olympian Deepak Thakur feels the Indian hockey players are under the thumb of the game's authorities since there is a lack of unity among them.
"We don't have unity among ourselves. We look after our self interests. Otherwise, how could Hockey India prevent players from taking part in the World Series Hockey which is of EPL's (English Premier League's) standard. I will tell this even in front of all these players," fumed the former India frontliner here Monday night after his franchise team Sher-E-Punjab's practice session at the MHA-Mahindra Stadium.
The 31-year-old Hoshiarpur-born forward, a member of the 2001 gold winning Junior World Cup team at Hobart, Tasmania, also hit out at HI for the manner in which they have gone about it to make sure that players selected for the proposed national camp do not take part in the ongoing WSH promoted by its rival Indian Hockey Federation and Nimbus.
"Hockey India prevented the players (camp probables) from taking part in WSH, but where is the camp? There is no sign of the camp and the players are wandering around. They would have been better off playing in the tournament, which would have kept them fit. Now when they return they will not be as fit (as before)," he pointed out.
"Where is the preparation for the Olympics for which we have qualified? They said they are starting a camp four months before the Olympic Games. It's (Players not participating in WSH) a loss for the players and more importantly for Indian hockey," said Thakur who represented the country in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics and was part of the silver medal winning squad at the Busan Asian Games in 2002.
Thakur, who scored a double hat-trick when India trounced Argentina 7-1 to win the title in the Hobart Junior World Cup more than a decade ago, felt happy that the country has qualified for the London Games to be held in July-August but added a medal haul at the Olympics looked to be a pipedream.
"We would have found it more difficult had we been in the other qualifying group with China and Korea. I am happy that India have qualified and it would be creditable if we can finish in the top 6 in the Games. I don't think we will be able to win a medal," he said succinctly.
India won the Olympic qualifiers at Delhi held last month to book their berth in the London Games after missing the bus at the Asian Games in Guangzhou in 2010-end.
Asked to compare the now defunct Premier Hockey League, that was disbanded after a few years, and the WSH, Thakur said the latter was better as the game is taken around the country because of the home and away format.
"PHL was good but all the matches were held in Chandigarh and there was interest only there. Here the home and away format is good as the matches are being held all around the country. Mumbai is witnessing good crowd to cheer their team and we would face a tough task in our clash with Mumbai (Marines)," said Thakur.
Sher-E-Punjab and Mumbai Marines are to clash here Wednesday at 7 pm.
Thakur is happy to have linked up with Gagan Ajit Singh, who has returned to competitive hockey after a few years, and said his team had some of the oldest players in the WSH, asserting the experience and the understanding among him, Gagan Ajit and Prabhjot which has helped the team go atop the league table.
He, however, was of the opinion that his team missed a specialist in taking penalty corners. "We are depending on field goals mostly, but are working now to improve our penalty corner conversions," he concluded.