Who cares about hockey?

An early morning media briefing is always a tricky affair. The one by Olympian and Hockey India member Pargat Singh was doubly so, coming a day after HI executive committee met to decide the future of the Indian team and the sport.

But while everyone expected a blast, they were disappointed; it was nothing more than friendly fire across the border, with unspecified targets. Starting with a "save hockey" campaign -- on the lines of Save Tiger -- it moved on to demanding a code of conduct for the "national game" (constitutionally invalid, since India doesn't have an official national game), threatened a hunger strike to make the decision-makers well, take a decision on the sport and finally admitted Indian hockey was in dire straits (stating the obvious).

Now, to be fair to Pargat, the intentions are noble. As a former player and now a successful administrator, he knows what it takes to be successful on field and what it requires off it. He has demanded 500 astro-turfs in the next five years, a reasonable demand given the requirements and the size of the nation. His demand that immediate action is required to save the sport and even think about qualifying for Olympics is justified. His request for an early resolution of the legal wrangles around the sport is something everyone associated with hockey in the country hopes for.

Unfortunately, that's where the nobility ends. The search for a change in system and revival of hockey, as always happens, has already descended into a blame game -- targetting everyone from the Sports Ministry to the erstwhile IHF (headed by KPS Gill). Pargat even has his sense of humor intact despite the current dismal situation. "Hockey has become the favourite football for administrators," is his favourite line nowadays.

His own association with sports administration as Punjab sports secretary has been fruitful and progressive, but the same cannot be said about his attempts to replicate that success at the national level. His first shot was at the president's slot, which ended in a disaster. He was then made the chairman of a technical committee that he was told would have all powers to take decisions regarding scheduling and coaches, but that didn't happen either.

... contd.

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