Monday, October 22, 2001, Chandigarh, India


N C R   S T O R I E S



Hockey player’s patient wait for rewards
M. S. Unnikrishnan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 21
They are well known as the Faridkot sisters. They belong to a family of “unique distinctions” and like many such “unique” families the Saini sisters also realised quite early in their lives that winning accolades on and off the sports field was just not enough for them to earn their due rewards. Olympian Rupa Saini’s is a case in point.

Rupa Saini’s credentials as a hockey player are unmatched. A little known fact about Rupa is that she was also a national-level athlete and volleyball player. But it was in hockey that Rupa earned her spurs. She represented Punjab in the Senior National Athletic Championship at Chennai in 1968 and at Cuttack in 1969.

She donned the Punjabi University colours in the All-India Inter- university Volleyball Championships at Ludhiana in 1972 and at Kanpur in 1973.

Rupa first represented Punjab\Pepsu in the National Hockey Championship in 1968 as an impressionable 13 year-old and made her international debut two years later.

“Rupa underwent the toughest training and rigorous practice of fundamental hockey skills from the age of 10, defining the infra-red region of her widest hockey spectrum on real time scale, before going on to become a name to reckon with in the hockey firmament”, noted a hockey veteran.

The “unique distinction” of the Saini family is that sisters Prema and Rupa together represented India in international hockey in 1970 and 1971 and also bagged the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award. They were later joined on the

hockey field by another sister, Swarna, while Krishna Saini represented India in athletics.

Rupa played for India in the first World Cup held in France in 1974 where she was awarded the Certificate of Merit for her impressive performance. She capped her fine international career when she was appointed captain of the Indian team for the Olympic Games in Moscow in 1980.She became the first woman to captain the Indian team in Olympic hockey. This distinction earned Rupa the Arjuna Award in 1980. Rupa represented the country for 11 long years in international competitions like World Cup, Asian Games and the Olympics. When she hung up her hockey stick after helping India win a veterans series against Japan in 1987 in New Delhi she had played hockey at the highest level for 19 long years.

After quitting competitive hockey, Rupa Saini was involved in hockey administration in various capacities—as administrator, manager, selector and coach besides being a member of a plethora of committees appointed by both the Punjab Government and the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports..

Rupa has also totted up 25 years of teaching and coaching experience. At present, she is working as a senior lecturer with the Government College of Physical Education, Patiala. Despite all her achievements, Rupa Saini is a disillusioned sportsperson as both the Punjab Government and the Union Government have not given due recognition to her talent.

Various Chief Ministers and ministers of Punjab had promised Rupa Saini a lot of incentives, including a plot of land, time and again but she has been waiting for the past 31 years, recounting tales of broken promises and hollow assurances.

She has also not been given common incentives like promotions, pay increments and cash awards etc. which have otherwise been given to all and

Sundry though she continues to work hard to produce hockey players of “Dhyan Chand’s credentials”.

The central government has been equally callous in recognising her services to sports as she has not yet been considered for the Dronacharya and Padmashri awards though she eminently fits the bill for both the coveted honours.


India eyeing 2012 Olympics
Our Sports Reporter

New Delhi, October 21
The Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports, Ms Uma Bharati, announced today that each state would have a sports academy during the 10th Five-Year Plan.

She said a proposal had been sent to the Union Ministry for Human Resource Development to make it mandatory for new educational institutions to have playground and sports facilities. The minister also hinted that India was likely to bid for the 2012 Olympic Games.

Interestingly, the inaugural Afro-Asian Games, a brainchild of Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, which were scheduled to be held from November 3 to 11 in New Delhi, have been put on hold due to the prevailing tense situation in the subcontinent.

Ms Bharti, while laying the foundation stone of the Ch. Devi Lal Northern Regional Centre of the Sports Authority of India (SAI) near Rai in Sonepat district, said it would be the first regional centre of the SAI in the northern region.

Joshi Chauhan village along National Highway 1 has made available 100 acres of land for this prestigious SAI centre, intended to give a big boost to sports activities in Haryana in particular and North India in general.

Ms Bharti said the sports academies to be set up in each state would lay stress on the promotion of traditional games like kabaddi and wrestling.

Ms Bharti praised Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala for providing a number of incentives to sportspersons of the state and setting a fine example for other states to emulate.

The Union Minister said had Sydney Olympic Games bronze medallist in weightlifting Karnam Malleswari of Haryana been given proper facilities she would have clinched the gold instead of the bronze (Malleswari, born and brought up in Andhra Pradesh, is married into a Haryanvi family).

The president of the Haryana Olympic Association, Mr Abhey Singh Chautala, hoped the SAI centre in Haryana would go a long way in promoting sports in the state.

The SAI executive director, Mr O P Bhatia, said there was a plan to create all sports facilities in this regional centre to make it a full-fledged regional centre of the SAI.

The Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, thanked the Union Minister for fulfilling a promise made to the state for setting up a befitting memorial to former Deputy Prime Minister Devi Lal.

The setting up of the SAI centre in Haryana has not been welcomed by Chandigarh, as the regional centre in Sonepat will affect the importance of the regional centre in the UT.



Nivia hit back to hold league

Nivia rallied to hold Bangadarshan to a 1-1 draw in a 'B' Division Super League round-robin match of the Delhi Soccer Association (DSA)-SAIL Football League Championship at the Delhi University ground here today. Both the goals were scored in the first half. Bangadarshan forged ahead when left winger Tarun Das blasted the ball home with a left footer five minutes into the match.

Yachting squad back with booty

The Indian Yatching team, who won a gold in the enterprise class and a silver and a bronze in the dinghy class in the Asian Championship in Pusan, Korea, called on Union Minister for Youth Affairs and Sports Uma Bharati. The leader of the delegation apprised the minister that out of the 10 Asian Championships held so far, India have won 24 medals, to emphasise India's consistent good performance in international events. Ms Bharti assured full help and co-operation to the Yatching Federation of India in holding the Asian Sailing Championship in India in 2003.

Jindal lift Polo Cup

Jindal Steel and Power beat Sahgal Stud /South Delhi by seven goals to six to win the Maharaj Prithi Singh Polo Cup at the Jaipur Polo ground here today. In a closely-contested match, Sahgal Stud/South Delhi took the lead in the first chukker by scoring two goals. The scores were tied at 3-3 at half time. And after tying the score at six-all, Jindal Steel forged ahead with a brilliant goal immediately thereafter. The marksmen for Jindal Steel were Jasmail Singh, Simran Shergill.

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