PUNE: Hockey Maharashtra was in for a rude surprise when reality was put in perspective and in the end had a word of advice.
In an openly voiced observation, Indian Olympic Association President, Narinder Batra, on Friday, said, “In the past, Maharashtra has had three or four players in the Indian hockey team, but now Maharashtra players are no longer seen in the camp. Hockey Maharashtra has let me down in this regard.”
Now, this was serious, particularly because Batra has been at the helm of Hockey India and is currently the re-elect Fédération Internationale de Hockey (FIH) President.
“Hockey will benefit if Hockey Maharashtra focuses on work rather than words (talks),” he added.
Batra was speaking at a function held in Pune to meet the newly elected Maharashtra Olympic Association office bearers and to congratulate grandparents and former athletes.
Furthering his opinion, Batra observed, “Maharashtra is a big name in hockey.”
He went on laud the state by saying, “the Indian team has had a lot of good players from this region,” but lamented, “however, there are no Maharashtra hockey players in the current Indian team.”
Well aware of his address, Batra mentioned, “one or two players from Maharashtra do participate in the men’s and women’s hockey camps. ‘Hockey Maharashtra’ is debating where it went wrong. This needs to be addressed. It should be noted that simply talking will not suffice. To do so, we must identify and develop new talented players from grassroots. The situation in the senior group is the same as in Maharashtra’s junior group.”
He further mentioned, “Hockey Maharashtra has greatly disappointed me.”
On India pulling out their men’s and women’s teams from the Birmingham Commonwealth Games to be held next year, Batra added, “Hockey India has decided against sending the teams, but the decision was not with the consultation with the sports ministry. The Commonwealth Games are regarded as politically significant."
Asked about the Sports Ministry reportedly expressing displeasure with Hockey India’s unilateral decision to withdraw, Batra responded, "To the government representative. It is necessary to provide information."
"Discussions with representatives will take place in the coming days. Whatever decision is made, it will be done after consulting with the government.”
The UK has relaxed the ten-day quarantine rule for Indian passengers. One of the reasons given for withdrawing from the Commonwealth Games is the strict COVID protocols.
When asked if the Commonwealth withdrawal would be reconsidered, Batra responded, “the question is not about rules. India will qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics if it wins the Asiad gold medal. Should the Commonwealth Games medal or Olympic qualification be prioritized at this time? If Indian hockey teams fail to qualify for the Asiad, they will be forced to compete in the qualifying round.
[Reported in Maharashtra Times]