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Former Olympians do their bit for Vivek
July 07, 2004 20:08 IST
Their physical strength may not match their urge to perform on the pitch, their reflexes may not be sharp enough to convert those defence-piercing crosses, but the stars of yesteryear gave fans a glimpse of Indian hockey's golden era in an exhibition match organized for the benefit of former international Vivek Singh, who is battling with cancer.
The former stars, who collected Rs 100,000 amongst themselves for Vivek, held the Asia Cup-winning Indian women's team to a goalless draw in a match which pitted experience against youth.
The funds raised from the match, organised by the Hockey Journalists Association, will be handed over to Vivek.
Sports Minister Sunil Dutt, who was the chief guest, lauded the commitment of the players and organisers and mooted the idea of a "collective fund" from all sports federations.
"In the film industry we have such a fund of Rs three to four crore and we help needy people from the interest coming from this fund. The same could be done by the sports federations," he said.
Dutt said the ministry has already handed over Rs 200,000 to Vivek for treatment and also declared that the cost of his further treatment at the Tata Memorial hospital in Mumbai would be borne by the Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Nehru Hockey Society, which holds the prestigious Nehru Cup hockey tournament in five categories, handed over a cheque of Rs 50,000 to Vivek's father Gauri Shankar Singh while one member made a donation of Rs 20,000.
Vivek, an office superintendent with North Eastern Railway, was first diagnosed and treated for urinary bladder cancer in 2000. But doctors last year detected that the cancer had spread to other parts of his body including the lungs.
Expressing gratitude towards the efforts made by the players and hockey journalists for raising money for the treatment of his son, Gauri Shankar said he was overwhelmed by the gesture and hoped Vivek would also respond by fighting strongly against the disease.
Former India captain Ajit Pal Singh also advocated the need for a fund to support ailing stars who went out of public memory after retirement.
The same sentiments were echoed by Ashok Kumar, son of the legendary Dhyan Chand, and former Olympians Joaquin Carvalho and Mohammad Shahid.
The other former Olympians who displayed their skills at the Shivaji stadium were Zafar Iqbal, Mervyn Fernandes, V Bhaskaran, Ramandeep Singh, M P Ganesh, Govinda and Vivek's brother Rahul Singh.
In an earlier match, Air India Academy beat Bangladesh Institute of Sports 3-0.