At a time when the morale of the hockey fraternity is at its lowest ebb after the dismal show in London, the MCC-Murugappa Gold Cup tournament, starting on Thursday, is all set to rejuvenate the spirits.

The tournament, which was not conducted last year owing to circumstances that are best left unexplained, the event is back again, thanks to the persistence of the sponsor and the MCC officials headed by Sanjay Gulvady, the hockey secretary.

The 11-day competition — the final is scheduled for September 16 — promises close matches with the ONGC going all out to retain the handsome trophy. There are 10 teams, divided into two halves of five each, in the fray.

Interestingly, all the participants are institutional outfits spread across the country giving the tournament the contours of a National championship.

The prize money for the winner is Rs.250,000 and for the runner-up Rs.150,000. Besides there are individual prizes for each game and separate awards for the tournament’s best goal-keeper, forward and most promising player.

Md. Munner, an internationally rated technical official, is the Tournament Director. At the media briefing on Tuesday, Muneer outlined the two important regulations (1) own goal, (2) stroking the dead-ball from a free hit. Both these rules are tried on the directive of the FIH.

Earlier, Anil Kumbhat, Vice-President, MCC, while welcoming the gathering, stressed the importance of sport in the club’s activities and expressed the club’s gratitude to the support by the Murugappa Group.

Ms. Vijaylakshmi, GM, Corporate Management, Murugappa Group, substituting for Arun Murgappan who could not attend the briefing, explained the proposed coaching projects for the school children and the move to honour veterans who had contributed significantly for the growth of hockey.

Organising Secretary, Sanjay Gulvady, outlined the features of the tournament which will be supervised by 10 top class umpires invited from all parts of the country. He also underlined the efforts to give the players the best of facilities, thanks to the support of the sponsor.

Srivatsan Subramaniam, Secretary, MCC, proposed a vote of thanks.

The teams: A: ONGC, Punjab National Bank, BPCL, Army XI, and Indian Overseas Bank.

B: IOC, Indian Railways, Air India, All India Customs and Central Excise and Integral Coach Factory.

Thursday’s matches: Punjab National Bank v BPCL (4 p.m.); Indian Railways v Air India (5-45 p.m.).

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