Save Mumbai hockey, former Olympians appeal to Rijiju
Mumbai, Jul 2 (PTI)
A group of legendary Olympians including gold medallist MM Somaya, former national coach Joaquim Carvalho have appealed to sports minister Kiren Rijiju to save Mumbai hockey as the team won't be able to take part in the National Championship.
It has been learnt that the The Mumbai Hockey Association Limited has decided against legally contesting Hockey India's move to withdraw their associate membership and recognise Hockey Maharashtra as the state's sole representative body for the sport.
The HI directive, which was issued in January, came to effect from July 1.
In wake of this development, 12 former India players – Dhanraj Pillay, MM Somaya, Joaquim Carvalho, Mervyn Fernandis, Marcellus Gomes, Balbir Singh Grewal, Gurubax Singh Grewal, Viren Rasquinha, Iqbaljit Singh, Eliza Nelson, Selma D'Silva and Margaret Toscano – have together written a mail to Rijiju, IOA chief Narendra Batra, its secretary Rajeev Mehta and HI president Mushtaq Ahmad – seeking their intervention to save hockey in the mega polis.
"In summary we would like to say that there are two significant drawbacks of not permitting a separate Mumbai team to participate in the National Hockey Championship. Indian hockey talent pool would get weakened," they wrote in the email.
"With fewer players from the city of Mumbai representing Maharashtra in the Nationals, there would be less opportunities to showcase their talent. Many deserving players would not get spotted by national selectors," they contended.
They also requested Rijiju and Batra to take into consideration that making Maharashtra headquarters means it will be restricted to Pune.
"With Hockey Maharashtra being based out of Pune and fewer players from Mumbai getting National colours, job opportunities for hockey players in Mumbai would reduce. Employers would consider discontinuing sponsorship of hockey teams. This will destabilise the hockey ecosystem in Mumbai," the players further wrote.
Hence they urged the authorities concerned that Mumbai be allowed to continue in its present independent state with direct affiliation to Hockey India as a full member.
"As former hockey players, who have represented India, we seek your intervention to save Mumbai hockey and ensure that the city continues to be a nerve centre for hockey in the country.
"If needed an amendment in constitution should be urgently considered by IOA/HI to save hockey in Mumbai as well as in other high potential centres," they contended.
In the mail, they have also cited the example of BCCI, which has allowed MumbaI Cricket Association to field a separate team in the Ranji Trophy, the national domestic cricket competition.