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Plugging for Pillay
May 06, 2004 16:39 IST
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Nirupam and former Olympians Joaquim Carvalho and Mervyn Fernandis have joined hands to fight for mercurial forward Dhanraj Pillay's inclusion in the Indian hockey team for the forthcoming Athens Olympics.
"Pillay should be given a fair trial by the Indian Hockey Federation, and its president K P S Gill should explain to the public the reason behind Pillay's ouster from the list of 30 probables for the camp before picking the team for the Athens Olympics," declared Nirupam in Mumbai on Wednesday.
"In fact, we will be shooting off a letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, requesting him to intervene and not only look into the autonomy of the IHF but also to pressurize them to include Pillay in the team as he can share his vast experience with the younger players," Nirupam added.
"I am not speaking as a Shiv Sena MP but as a sports lover. The Indian hockey team stands a fine chance of winning a medal at Athens if we have a well-balanced side and Pillay should be part of it as he is still the best playmaker in the country," Nirupam said.
Former India captain Carvalho, who represented India at the 1984 Olympics, said, "As a former India coach and a friend of Pillay we want a well-balanced side to be sent to Athens and Pillay brings variety to the composition of the team because he is good in attack and can also distribute the ball to other forwards.
"Gill has gone on record saying we need players who can last for seventy minutes. That means he [Gill] is either sure that India will not make it to the semi-finals or has forgotten that the semis and finals can last over 100 minutes," he added.
"In any big event a team should be a combination of youth and experience, but, unfortunately, the IHF has gone only for youth. As a former Olympian I know that Pillay's presence will make a big difference as the present playmaker in the team is not any where near Pillay's class," Carvalho argued.
"Hence Pillay's presence is a must for India to do well at Athens.The IHF should form a selection committee to pick the right players and then have a team of medical experts to check the players' fitness before discarding them.
"It is also high time the IHF respect the senior players and tell them in advance that it will be their last season before they make way for a younger player like the Aussie cricket selectors do. They should also see that a senior player is given a fitting send-off on the lines of the Pakistan Cricket Board, which gave a memorable send off to their fast bowler Waqar Younis recently," Carvalho added.
Another former Olympian, Mervyn Fernandis, who represented India at the 1980, '84, '88 Olympics, and also captained the team at the junior World Cup in Versailles, France, in 1979, said: "I also would like to point out to Gill that no player in any team will play the full 70 minutes as all the teams will utilize the rolling substitution where a player can just play for a minute before coming back. Pillay's presence even for a minute can change the course of the match.
"We respect the IHF panel, if they have one, but the reason for keeping Pillay out should be explained or he should be included in the list of 30 probables and watched closely for 15 days at the camp and if he is fit he should be included in the team as he is still the best player we have," Fernandis added.