Two of India’s finest hockey talent, Ashok Kumar and Charles Cornelius, made a passionate plea on Friday to revive hockey in Bengal and other States.
“Indian hockey performed the worst at the London Olympics finishing 12th out of 12 teams,” said Ashok. Son of legendary Dhyan Chand, Ashok is in the city for an exhibition match on Saturday at the Mohun Bagan ground.
“It is time to revive hockey in different States including Bengal, a State that has a glorious past. Bengal has contributed immensely to Indian hockey,” he said. “This is not the time to criticise Indian hockey; it time to find a way to revive the game, assess the work we have done so far and pave a new path for the future,” he said.
He felt the players and coaches need better support from the National federation. “They need better support from the management in reviving the game in India.” He recalled the glorious days of hockey in Bengal and how he enjoyed playing for his favourite club, Mohun Bagan, for three years. “I can say that my stint with Mohun Bagan helped me prepare for rigorous international tournaments.”
Charles, an outstanding goalkeeper with golden gloves, thought the infighting in hockey should end, to open a new vista for the game.
He felt modern hockey is more suited for fitter, faster and powerful players. “The skilful hockey that Dhyan Chand and Ashok Kumar played is passé. Now it is power-play. India needs to adapt to the changing style quickly to make a mark internationally,” he pointed out
He too rued the fact that Bengal’s pre-eminence in the game has gone down. “Bengal produced so many great players in the past. Now how many from Bengal play for the Indian team?” he asked.
“The game has to be revived in the State. With proper planning and hard work, I am sure the game will start flourishing,” he added.