"I will not hesitate to state that the National Sports Day is more of a ‘tamasha’ for the hockey fraternity" says veteran Olympian Balwinder Singh Shammi

The National Sports Day is celebrated on August 29 across the country to mark the birth anniversary of hockey legend Dhyan Chand. The annual ritual in Hyderabad was just to garland the statue of the illustrious star of yesteryears at the Gachibowli complex and host a hockey match.

The city has the dubious distinction of not even hosting the local hockey league championship, despite having three astro-turfs, because of politics in the association and the court cases.

It did not mean much even for the Indian Railways probables preparing at the RRC Ground for the major events, which include the Nationals.

It was just another day of training for them, who included internationals such as Manjeet Kullu, Innocent Kullu and Belfazar Horo. Coach and former Olympian Balwinder Singh Shammi and SCR sports officer and ex-international S.M. Nayeem were there keeping a close watch.

Disgusted

Balwinder, who has played 134 internationals including the 1988 Seoul Olympics rubbing shoulders with the likes of Pargat Singh, Mohd. Shahid and Merwyn Fernandez, is disgusted with the way the sport is run now.

“Unless the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) merges with the Hockey India (HI), I don’t see a bright future for the game,” he asserts.

He believes that India’s dismal show in the recent London Olympics has delivered a body blow as the young boys will be discouraged from taking it up.

Straight talk

“Tell me, which sponsor will have the heart to support us?” For the players too, there is nothing except refreshing their memories of the great feats of Dhyan Chand. “I will not hesitate to state that the National Sports Day is more of a ‘tamasha’ for the hockey fraternity. Other disciplines are more fortunate to have national federations who have some vision and commitment. That is why they are moving ahead while hockey is sliding deep into a morass,” moans Balwinder Singh, who should know better as he runs the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Academy in Amritsar.

More In: Hyderabad