More than a year since he was unceremoniously dumped from the Indian squad for the hockey Olympic qualifiers, Arjun Halappa has returned to Hockey India fold — as a national selector.
In a release on Friday, Hockey India named the new national selection committee that will take charge from July 1 for one-year tenure, with an emphasis on youth. The team includes two other new faces — former captain Gagan Ajit Singh and R.P. Singh.
While Olympian B.P. Govinda has been named chairman of the nine-member committee, those who have been dropped are Col. Balbir Singh and Thoiba Singh.
“Hockey India had discussed this with me. It is a pleasant surprise as I will now be able to work from within the system,” Halappa said.
Being an active player means Halappa will have to juggle duties.
“I can still play for Air India for some time, but that will not affect my duties. It comes down to sincerity.
“As a player I have seen both good and bad decisions in selection; that makes it easier for me to know what not to do,” he added.
Four women selectors have also been included — Savitri Purty, Mamta Kharab, Surinder Kaur, Saba Anjum — to expand the committee.
The selection committee will work with the High Performance and Development Committee to develop future players.
Surinder, Saba and R.P. Singh are also members of the HPD Committee, as are the outgoing selectors.
Interestingly, both Halappa and Gagan Ajit were part of the rebel World Series Hockey organised by the Indian Hockey Federation.
“Good to be back to active hockey, and back in the fold. Hopefully, we will be able to do a good job and, more importantly, an impartial job. We all know how biased selections have ruined Indian hockey over the years,” said Gagan Ajit.
Col. Balbir welcomed the appointment of younger faces.
“I have served enough. I was a selector for 11 long years earlier, and four years now, so it’s time to get younger players into the system. I am happy that my playing career ended in Pune, my first assignment was the national championships in Pune in 1987, and now I am ending my tenure as a selector in the same city during the nationals,” he said.