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Cash crunch handicaps hockey tourney
November 30, 2007 17:15 IST
Handicapped by severe financial crunch and absence of sponsorship, the Lal Bahadur Shastri four-nation women's hockey tournament starting in New Delhi on Saturday is spiked before it could take-off.
While the International Hockey Federation recommends at least five-star accommodation for the players and officials, they have been housed at an ordinary hotel in the city.
As the players are spending their nights on sofas and even on the floor of the hotel, lack of funds is also hampering other aspects of organisation.
Upto the neck with troubles, the desperate organisers tell their story of utter helplessness to which none is ready to lend an ear.
"We are still running from pillar to post to arrange something. We still hope that something could be done at the last minute," Chairman of Lal Bahadur Hockey Society Kamal Chaudhary said.
"The players deserve at least five-star accommodation and we very sad to say that we cannot provide them not even two-star facilities. They spent last night on sofas and floors. But we are determined to make up for that with our goodwill and hospitality," Chaudhary said.
"In these conditions nobody would want to come and play, but thanks to the players, they are taking all the trouble to participate in the tournament. This is in fact a miracle that we are staging it," he added.
And captain of the Italian team, Stella Girotti, confirmed the problems her players are facing at the team hotel.
"The rooms are very small and feel too cold at night. It's not comfortable at all," she said.
FIH-appointed tournament director Sylvie Petitjean from France [Images] also admitted that the accommodation was a big problem, but she appreciated the organisers' initiative to make women's hockey popular.
"Hotel is indeed a serious problem. I will have to mention it in my report to the FIH. But at the same time we should not concentrate only on the negatives. We should also look at the positives of the tournament, we should get the feel of the event. I will mention both the aspects in my report," she said.
"Accommodation is a problem. But that is not the only thing about the tournament," she added.
Sylvie, however, expressed satisfaction over the playing conditions at the venue, Shivaji Stadium.
"The playing conditions are good. Though a bit slippery, the pitch is good considering the fact that this will be the last championship held on it before relaying (for the 2010 Commonwealth Games)," she said.
Chaudhary, meanwhile, made it clear that the society was not spending any money to rope in Bollywood star Salman Khan [Images] to add glamour to the tournament.
"We are doing this to attract people to the tournament but we are not giving a single penny," he said.