New Delhi: Mismanagement continues to haunt India hockey with the Russia-bound senior women’s team having to return from the airport for not having necessary travel documents.
The team was scheduled to leave for Kazan, Russia, from here on Wednesday night to take part in the Champions Challenge tournament, the first qualifying event for Champions Trophy, starting Sunday but they were denied permission to board the plane for not having the transit visa to stop over at Frankfurt, Germany.
Apparently, the situation arose due to misunderstanding between the central government’s travel agency Balmer Lawrie Ltd. and Lufthansa Airlines.
“The situation could have been avoided if both the travel agent and the airlines acted in a more professional manner.
Since all government-financed foreign tours are handled by the travel agency, the Indian team’s tickets too were booked by them,” Hockey India secretary general Mohammad Aslam told PTI.
“We had also sought all travel-related information in advance from them and the agency informed us that (the airline) officials had told them that transit visas were not required for the Delhi-Kazan flight via Frankfurt. But they later retracted,” he said.
“We were let down by (the airline’s) misleading position on the issue of procuring transit visa. We blame (the airline) for misleading us. We are upset that the members of the Indian women hockey team and the support staff had to go through inconvenience at an unearthly hour,” Aslam added.
The team will now leave for Kazan later on Thursday night by a different airline.
“I got the news at the middle of the night and decided to send the team a day later after settling all the issues. We have already made alternative travel arrangement and the team will now be travelling to Kazan via Moscow,” Aslam said.
The Hockey India official said he had sought an explanation from the travel agency on the issue.
Coach M.K. Kaushik also blamed the travel agency and the airlines for the goof up and said such incidents affect the team morale to an extent.
“It was a mistake of the travel agent and the airlines. The agent should have taken care of all the travel issues. Such incidents do have an adverse affect on the team morale,” he said.
Apart from India, other participating teams in the seven-day meet are Belgium, Chile, Ireland, the Netherlands Antilles, host Russia, Ukraine and Canada. — PTI