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President does his bit for hockey
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | July 12, 2003 22:00 IST
When President A P J Abdul Kalam met the Indian hockey team on Friday, he hoped that its recent achievements in the international arena would not be just an exception.
Kalam hoped that under the leadership of the Dhanraj Pillay, the team would scale greater heights, an official said on Saturday.
"Pillay mentioned to Kalam that whereas most of the Western countries have best of the fast artificial turfs, there were only handful of such play grounds in India. Pillay did not mention anything about lack of incentives to the President. He may have told the sports ministry about it," he said.
Kalam told the team that he would mention the matter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the two meet, he added.
The President, through his secretariat, had asked the Union sports ministry to organise the meeting with the Indian hockey team, which recently won a four-nation tournament in Germany.
The officials of the ministry were stunned by the unusual request.
The ministry alerted K P S Gill, president of the Indian Hockey Federation, and asked him to get the boys for tea with the President.
"The President has been following the fortunes of the Indian hockey team very closely. After the team had won two tournaments in a row in Australia and Germany, Kalam desired to meet the players," another official said.
While players like Dhanraj Pillay and Dilip Tiriky were flown in, those living nearby in Punjab and Haryana were asked to rush to Delhi by trains.
"I would not say that we had a short notice. We had enough time to bring the boys to Delhi for a meeting with President Kalam. The President was pleased with the performance of the boys. I hope the interest shown by the President motivates the corporate houses to back the Indian hockey team and help us in converting our dream of an Olympic medal into a reality," Gill told rediff.com
After their meeting, the team left for Brog in Himachal Pradesh and will spend one week at a mountaineering institute there before returning to Delhi on July 17.