WILL India rise from the dumps? That is the question worrying hockey lovers. The way the Indian Hockey Federation is operating in adversity, it may well be case of giving up the ghost. The positive approach is just not surfacing.

The I.H.F. president, M.A.M. Ramaswamy, runs away from the press every time an I.H.F. meeting is held. K.L. Passi is becoming more the empty diplomat type. “The Press is our friend”, he often says. “They are always cooperative”, But there is a time when people get sick of major issues being sidetracked. Pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes is just not possible.

What has I.H.F. done since the World Cup debacle? Nothing constructive so far. When the Indira Gandhi international could have been utilized to induct fresh blood the LH.F. called in the old guards. This is a folly often repeated to realize the fallacy that India must win to take a comeback. Holland experimented with their junior players at the last World Cup at Vancouver. Gys Weterings, Patrick Faber, Erik Parlivliet and Marc Dellissen showed enough skill at New Delhi to show Holland as quite a force in world hockey though their performance at the London World Cup was disastrous.

India had to bring in Joaquin Carvalho, Marcellus Gomes, and Vineet Kumar though even a simpleton could tell the hockey brass these players would be over the hill in another year at the most. So what kind of planning is this! Better they had ushered in John Fernandes, Vivek Singh, Jude Felix, Kulajit Meetei and Nagender Kumar. The exposure would have shown whether these younsters had the stuff to deliver in a big league.

But one can never credit the LHF. with foresight. They prefer rather to make capital of petty issues to camouflage their own shortcomings. The Ajitpal issue is typical of their pathetic ingenuity.

Artificial surfaces cameinto being at the Montreal Olympics. Twelve years have passed, yet we continue to bemoan our inadequacy an Astro Turf, Poligras and all. By now every major center in the country should have had an artificial pitch, Yet we continue to be primitive. Our National championships are still being held on grass and mud grounds.

The LH.F. offers excuses each passing year but never come to grips with the problem which is affecting Indian hockey most. One could call out in agony, “Oh, for some constructive thinking. When will we be progressive?”

Probably when Indian hockey is well and truly buried in oblivion.

Unless the Sports Ministry at the center acts drastically, Indian sports will never improve. The must pay in full for AstroTurf, tartan track or whatever and accordingly cut sports grants to states where they install artificial surfaces. There is far too much of funds being siphoned at state levels for purposes of lesser importance.

Will the government work the way? They go about, rather, in a cockeyed way of stopping participation at international altogether. No purpose is served that way. Better they stop sport altogether because what prevails today is a gross lack of sportsmanship and Stagnation at near every level of sport,

You wait and see what happens at the Senior National Hockey at Pune. The same old flaws will surface. No good trapping, penalty corners will be squandered galore. The reason will be the same. The surface was poor. Everybody will rave and rankle but precious little will have been achieved. Of course, 40odd players will be picked for special coaching. Those lads too will be initiated into the rut which is spreading frighteningly today.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 1, 1987