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Former hockey Olympians to Vivek's help

Source: PTI
June 15, 2004 18:57 IST
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Former India hockey captain M M Sommaya and his erstwhile national team mates Mervyn Fernandis and Joaquim Carvalho made a strong plea to the Indian Hockey Federation and Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs for financial aid to cancer-stricken fellow-Olympian Vivek Singh.

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The three stalwarts, in the presence of Vivek, told a press conference in Mumbai on Monday night they are coming together to financially help the former India center-half, who, they said, has shown great determination, calm demeanour and courage in fighting the disease.

"We are going to rally around hockey players from Mumbai to contribute in some small way towards the treatment that Vivek has been undergoing for some time now.

"This won't be enough. It is for the IHF and the Sports Ministry to come to his help in a big way," Somaiya said, praising the self-confidence and endurance of Vivek.

Somaiya suggested that the IHF organise a benefit tie. The last time benefit ties for hockey players were organised was way back in 1985. They were staged to help the family of the late (ace India full-back) Sujit Singh and for the treatment of former India goalkeeper Charles Cornelius, who suffered a serious knee injury.

"We have a players' association that is not very active. That is why through players in Mumbai we want to set the ball rolling [to support Vivek]," Somaiya said.

Echoing similar views, ace dribbler Fernandis said he admires Vivek's fortitude in facing up to the huge challenge in life.

"We were all very worried when we went to see him in hospital, but Vivek was very cool and calm, so much like he used to be on the field," Fernandis said.

Carvalho, who was Vivek's immediate predecessor at center-half in the Indian team, came out very strongly in favour of organising a benefit tie for Railways player, who had represented India at the senior level between 1986 and 1991, including the 1988 Seoul Olympics, 1990 Lahore World Cup and Beijing Asian Games.

"The IHF should be interested not only in the welfare of the current lot of players, but also should not forget about players who had represented the country in the past," Carvalho said, adding, it should come forward and organise a benefit match for people like Vivek.

"Let them give the green signal and let the Sports Authority of India give us the stadiums and we, the hockey players fraternity, will organise a benefit tie for Vivek," Carvalho said.

Vivek, who was present at the press conference with his younger brother and former international Rahul Singh and father, said that he underwent six cycles of chemotherapy as part of his treatment for cancer. The last one was completed today at the Tata Memorial Hospital in Mumbai.

"Now I plan to go to Bangalore to try homeopathy treatment," said the calm and composed ex-international.

The Railways employee said his father had sent a representation to the Union Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs as directed by the latter.

"I have also requested the IHF to help me with a benefit match," he said adding he is yet to get a reply from the federation.

Somaiya, Fernandis and Carvalho contributed Rs 10,000 each towards Vivek's medical treatment.

The Sports Journalists Association of Mumbai also chipped in with Rs 25,000.

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