Jeevan Chinnappa

Former Olympians from Kodagu district back the players

‘The current developments could spell doom for Indian hockey’

Officials, political interests blamed for the present imbroglio

Madikeri: Whether the standoff between the senior hockey players, who have boycotted the World Cup training camp in Pune, and the Hockey India officials ends or not, the former players hailing from Kodagu, who have represented the country in the Olympics, World Cups and international matches, are of the opinion that shabby treatment had been meted out to the players, including non-payment of incentives and “it is high time the confusion is sorted out”.

Kodagu’s name is synonymous with the game of hockey. It has produced more than 45 players representing the country in Olympics, World Cups and international matches. The current developments could spell doom for Indian hockey, says Nanaiah, one of the hockey lovers.

Anjaparavanda B. Subbaiah, who has played for India in two Olympics, two World Cups and Asian Games as a successful goalkeeper, says promises of payments of incentives for putting in good performance had been there in the past too, but many such assurances had remained unfulfilled. Even if some say that this was not the right time to boycott the training camp in preparation to the World Cup Championships scheduled to begin in New Delhi on February 28, it is justified, he says.

“This is an old story,” is what another Olympian Cheppudira S. Poonacha had to say when his reaction was sought on the stalemate. He blamed the officials and certain political interests for the present imbroglio. The players had not been getting their dues for many years now. “We were paid $10 a day as allowance when we played for the country outside India in the 90s,” he said.

“Where did the Rs. 1.7 crore released by Sahara India, the sponsors of the game, go and how much did the players get out of it?” he asked. He was of the opinion that all senior-most Olympians should come out in support of the players forgetting whether some of them could land top posts in hockey administration later.

Mandepanda Monnappa (Monni), a former international, also batted for the players, saying hockey players must be given their due. This is indeed the right time to demand Hockey India to clear off incentive dues, he said.

Both Mr. Subbaiah and Mr. Poonacha argue that Hockey India should fix a match fee for the players and pay accordingly after grading each player. C.A. Karumbaiah, who is a coach and currently the Administrative Officer of the Sports Authority of India Training Centre, said players should not have boycotted the training camp at this point of time when the World Cup events had reached the crescendo.

Differences of opinion could have been sorted through negotiations instead of blowing it out of proportions, Mr. Karumbaiah added.