|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
No cash incentive for silver medal-winning hockey team
Onkar Singh in New Delhi | May 20, 2008 15:51 IST
Union Minister for Sports and Youth affairs Manohar Singh Gill, who met members of the Indian hockey team that won the silver medal at the just-concluded Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, said there won't be any cash incentive for the players for finishing second-best.
He was speaking to journalists after a photo-session with the team members and Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, who felicitated them on Tuesday morning in Delhi.
"Let me emphasise that our effort would be to revive Indian hockey, which has become a spiritual thing for us, even if it means that they [the team] continue to lose matches. Right now we have no scheme to offer financial assistance to the boys. I can understand what you are hinting at," Gill told rediff.com in response to a question.
Gill, who took over as Sports Minister in the last cabinet reshuffle, hopes to increase the number of astroturf playing surfaces in the country from 15 to 30.
"The rules of international hockey have changed. Countries like England [Images] and other nations who have wet playing conditions have changed the rules and now we have to play according to present set of rules. What is 30 astroturfs in a country like India? Since the day I took over I make it a point that I track the movement of the file. I know that the boys and girls playing other games do not get the same money that cricketers in India get and this is where the problem lies," Gill said.
Some of the IOA-appointed selectors, including Aslam Sher Khan and Dhanraj Pillay, who had an on going tiff with former IHF chief K P S Gill, did not show up for felicitation. Only former captains Ajitpal Singh, Zafar Iqbal and Pargat Singh were present.
Kalmadi refused to clarify under what rule or clause K P S Gill was sacked as president of the federation.
"The matter is sub-judice and, hence, it cannot be answered," he declared.
"But we are definitely not here to continue forever. We want the IHF to resume its functioning as soon as possible. I am delighted that the boys, under the captaincy of Sandeep Singh, gave a good account of themselves. I compliment each one of them. I hope we can do something for all of them," he added.
Sandeep Singh said the team's most difficult match was the final against Argentina.
"Each boy played very well and gave one hundred per cent," he told rediff.com.
He was quick to concede that his fitness needs to improve.
"I also need to improve me game, though my penalty-corner conversions have shown remarkable improvement and are close to one hundred per cent," he said.