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Govt upgrades hockey to Priority list
April 23, 2008 19:44 IST
Barely a fortnight after taking over as the sports minister, M S Gill on Wednesday provided men's hockey in the country a new lease of life by upgrading it to the 'Priority' category, along with seven other disciplines.
The development came as a surprise, as the game has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, the bribe scandal involving Indian Hockey Federation secretary-general K Jothikumaran being the latest in a long list of controversies plaguing the establishment.
After a string of flop shows, men's hockey was downgraded to the 'General' category last June and the game plummeted to new low when the team failed to qualify for the Beijing [Images] Olympic Games, which meant India will not figure in the Olympic hockey event for the first time since their debut in 1928.
Apart from men's hockey, football, swimming, basketball, cycling, volleyball, school games and university games were also promoted to the 'Priority' category.
Making it clear that the ministry would not be a silent spectator to hockey's decline, Gill also named former Olympians Ajit Pal Singh and Zafar Iqbal as 'Government Observers' in the selection committee of the Indian Hockey Federation. They replace R S Bhola and Rupa Saini.
Gill's decision to change the observers came close on the heels of a sting operation that caught Jothikumaran, who has resigned since, accepting money to allegedly induct a player into the national team.
"The re-categorisation of above sports disciplines to higher category will make them eligible for greater international exposure. For the games, which have been upgraded from 'Others' category to highest 'Priority' category, will be entitled for an additional benefit of engaging foreign coaches," the ministry said in a statement.
On the decision to nominate Ajit Pal Singh and Zafar Iqbal in the IHF selection committee, the statement said they would "...oversee, guide and assist the IHF for the promotion and development of hockey. They will also keep close watch on all selection process."
List of upgraded disciplines:
1. Hockey (Men) - from 'General' to 'Priority'
2. Footbal - from 'Others' to 'Priority'
3. Swimming - from 'General' to 'Priority'
4. Basketball - from 'General' to 'Priority'
5. Cycling - from 'Others' to 'Priority'
6. Volleyball- from 'Others' to 'Priority'
7. School Games - from 'General' to 'Priority'
8. University Games - to 'Priority'.