Earlier in Forum






Q: How can Indian hockey be saved?
This is the second instalment of readers’ response

Let veteran players govern IHF

The deterioration of Indian hockey over the years is because of the malaise, which is rooted deep in sports administration, and the bureaucracy, which keeps top sportsmen away from administration. Sports administrators, with the mindset of colonial bureaucracy, enjoy discretionary powers without accountability. The opacity of the system and plethora of irrational rules breed corruption and keeps a genuine sportsperson out. The following steps should be taken to save Indian hockey:

The management of all the sports bodies should be handed over to veteran players to minimise the bureaucratic-style of functioning. The sports budget should be increased to create world-class infrastructure. And hocked should be promoted at the village level by providing infrastructure and attractive incentives.

Long-term sports policies, transparency in selection, accountability, professionalism in administration and promotion of popular hockey players by the media by presenting them as role models for the youth can really elevate Indian hockey.

In present-day world of materialism, the youth is not interested in sports. I strongly feel that the promotion of hockey by the media and the participation of big industrial houses have a potential to popularise and promote Indian hockey, leading to its revival and regaining the long-lost glory.

Dr VITULL K. GUPTA, Bhatinda


For better performance of Indian hockey, professionals and veteran hockey players should govern the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF). Suggestions and advice of hockey lovers should be heard by the IHF to boost the morale of the team.

S. K. MITTAL, Panchkula

Instil national spirit

India -eight-time Olympic hockey champions struggling hard to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games speaks volumes about the sad and sorry state of affairs of hockey. How further deterioration can be checked is a million dollar question. The IHF should be radically overhauled. International hockey stars of yesteryears should replace bureaucrats and politicians in the federation. Only fair, impartial, and transparent selections can bring confidence amongst the players.

Former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh felt that the death knell of domestic hockey competitions had been virtually sounded, though players emerge from many competitions to ensure a steady supply of talent for the federation.

Players and coaches should be well acquainted with modern tactics and techniques. Above all, there is need to instil national spirit in players that will go a long way to revive and regain the lost glory and glamour of hockey.

A good teamwork and coordination is lacking in Indian hockey. The spirit of winning from the very first move should be inculcated in players. None should play for oneself but for the country. The coach should not only train the team, but also prepare the players mentally.


Need to tap talent

Indian hockey was once the pride of nation. The country, which is considered to be the birthplace of hockey, is now frantically searching for a place in the Olympics.

Who is responsible? The answer is obvious-only we are responsible for the fading glory of the game. We are in a catch-22 situation. Neither can we adopt western techniques nor can we do away with our own style.

The solution to the problem is known to all of us. If we want to put hockey on the right track, we will have to catch players young. The game needs to be nurtured from the grassroots level -schools and colleges. Proper infrastructure should be created and the players should be given ample incentives by putting so-called ‘glamour’ in it, so that they get attracted and perform on the field. It is wrong to say that hockey can get a boost only if we start discouraging cricket. Both games have their own charm. The media should also play an active role in this regard.

SURAJ and R. KAPOOR, Solan


It was sad to see the pathetic performance of Indian hockey at the Doha Asian Games. For the past many years, the performance of hockey team has gone from bad to worst. We need a thorough rethinking on the management and selection procedures. The following points need to be taken care of, in case we are sincerely interested to revive our lost pride:

The president of Indian/Olympic Hockey Federation and coach should be an Olympian.

There should be no political influence during selection and no political person should be allowed to mange the affairs of the federation. There should not be any region-based selection; rather best players should make it to the national team.

We should have second-line of players, so that we have options to change a player in need. The players should be paid handsomely, so that they feel secured. To strengthen the domestic hockey, all games should be played on synthetic turf. More stadiums with modern facilities should be constructed to tap the young talent. We should find sponsors to support the domestic hockey on the lines of cricket.

J. C. DAGAR, Karnal

Run IHF like European clubs

I am an ardent fan of hockey since its golden days. However, today political and regional interference has ruined the game. Self-centred and image-building individuals are running the IHF. To save it from their clutches, hockey administration should be handed over to some business house or any individual for five years.

Give exclusive rights for selection and sponsorship and run the federation as European soccer clubs, where talented players are handsomely paid. Make the team represent India in three main international events, i.e., the Olympics, the World Cup and one as decided by the owner.


Big business houses should come forward

The performance of the hockey team remained dismal at the Asian Games in Doha and the World Cup in Germany, as it played like minnows. To contain deterioration, politicking in the IHF should be banned and only seasoned players with more than 50 international matches should be allowed to contest IHF polls.

Talent should be nurtured at the sub-junior and junior levels and all matches should be played on the astroturf. Sports Authority of India hostels should have astroturf facilities, especially in Punjab and Santhal Parganas. Young talent should be tapped and groomed by giving modern training. Their stamina and skills should be improved, so that they can take on countries like Australia, Germany and South Korea with ease.

Business houses should come forward and sponsor sub-junior and junior level competitions by increasing the prize money and absorbing players into their companies. They should be given income tax exemption for creating hockey infrastructure. The media should give adequate coverage to hockey tournaments and players, so that the glory of the national game is restored.



In the past, hockey was the pride of Indian sports. Today, we fully recognise that cricket is the undisputed, most popular sport ever played in India. The main reason that young men are not fond of playing hockey is the lack of lustre and money in the game. All non-glamorous games like hockey, football, kabbadi have taken back seat in our country. Big business houses like Reliance should come forward to help the game. They should provide more stadiums and make a good team of talented players. They should also provide employment to these players. There should not be any kind of interference by an outsider. Let the team be called Reliance India Hockey.

Wg-Cdr T.L. BHARDWAJ (retd), Chandigarh

Introduce more tournaments

Indian hockey is in a shambles. This is evident as it failed to qualify for the semi-finals at the recently held Doha Asian Games. To save the game, all the governing body and the constitution of the Indian Hockey Federation should be changed. K.P.S. Gill should be removed and a former hockey player should be made the in charge.

The new incumbent with his experience can also devote time for the uplift of the game. By forming the new governing body, we can expect the selection of good players who will represent our country at the international level. All matches should be covered by DD and AIR to create interest amongst the youth. More tournaments involving various universities and colleges should be organised to encourage this sport. The players who do exceptionally well in these tournaments should be suitably rewarded and taken into national team.


Revive Sansarpur's spirit

Many major steps are needed to save the so-called 'national game'. The government must take up the revival of the game as a national project. The spirit of Sansarpur village should be revived. The government should provide world-class infrastructure in the Sansarpur village, which is the nursery of the Indian hockey.

There should not be any compulsion of balancing of the regions and states, while selecting the team. Performance should be the only criteria for selection. Politicians, bureaucrats and other retired or serving government officials should be kept away from the game. Only veteran Hockey players should handle the affairs of the game. Hockey training camps should be managed by the Indian Army. Private as well as public industrial houses should be encouraged to adopt the game as well as players. Indian hockey can certainly be revived.

A.K.SHARMA, Chandigarh


The debacle of hockey is due to favouritism by the selection committee. Indian hockey has produced legends like Dhayan Chand. Sansarpur, a village near Jalandhar, has the distinction of producing many legend hockey players in the past. The Government of India should scrap of the services of the President of Hockey Federation and in future appoint professional, talented, experienced and veteran player as president.

The young players should be given proper training, diet, economic aid and scientific guidance. They should be trained in schools and colleges, and the government should ban /restrict the hockey team from playing in international competitions unless and until the performance of the players has met certain standards.


Start new programmes

There is a lot to be done to produce more players like Surjit Singh, Pargat Singh, Dhayan Chand, Dhanraj Pillay, etc. To bring back the days of glory, the Indian Hockey Federation needs to formulate New Area Development Programmes to search for new talent, bring in world class infrastructure and equipment, appoint new fitness experts having knowledge and experience and exclude politics from the game.


More Astroturf fields needed

The solution to any problem can only be obtained by first knowing the cause and root of the problem. In this case we can see that the downward swing of Indian hockey started after the introduction of Astroturf as playing field at the world stage, and we in India do not have enough astro-turf fields. At the grassroots level they are almost none. It's same that our players don't do well because they are not exposed to proper playing conditions at the grooming level. Simi

You cannot expect a child who has played his hockey on grass field to suddenly perform at peak level on Astroturf, as the skill and fitness levels required for these fields are totally different.

The solution hence is to enhance in a big way the number of astro-turfs at village levels as hockey gets its players mainly from villages. Secondly restructuring of the under-14, 16, 19 level programs based on modern day fitness regimes but sticking to our attacking Asian style. The progress will take its time but if sincere efforts are made in a planned way by the Administrator's then hockey can reinvent its glory.


Early start is the key

Hockey being India's national game couldn't add any medal at the 2006 Asian games. The incident was painful for the game lovers. There was a time when our team with star players like Dhayan Chand and Co. won gold medals in a row at Olympic Games in the 60s. There was no competitor except Pakistan in Asia. That superiority was possible because hockey was the game of our villages known as khido khundi. Now khido khundi is being replaced by games like cricket.

Here are some suggestions to save our hockey: To improve the game, good stadiums with Astroturf after every five villages are required. Funds should be generated to maintain these stadiums. This will help improve the game because at the Doha Asian Games, most of the players, who had sound financial background and were from cities, won medals for the country in the events like shooting, chess and tennis.

There is need to ensure the players of a secure future by improving their financial condition, so that they can play game with their heart. Rewards at different stages and more jobs should be kept reserved for good players.

KARANBIR SHAH, on e-mail

Selectors need to change their outlook

India, once undisputedly and unquestionably uncrowned king of hockey, is now passing through a very rough period. Its glory is dashing to the ground due to various reasons. Its history, written in golden letters with great efforts of Dhyan Chand and his ilk, is being tarnished and spoiled everyday.

The main objective of the functionaries at the helm of affairs of hockey is to save their chair and not the national prestige, which is at the stake. They should change their outlook and be selfless, honest, and sincere in their deeds. Players should be tapped at the grassroots level and nurtured accordingly. Players should be honoured and encouraged loudly. Their future should be secure. To bring back the past golden era of hockey, our players and selectors should work in tandem by keeping politics at arm's length.


Counsel players

Indian hockey that brought laurels in the past is now going through a bad period. The performance of the team is deteriorating in spite of all the facilities being provided by the Indian Hockey Federation. The team needs a psychologist to boost its morale. It will help regain the lost confidence. Counselling is needed to lift their performance. Generals should not send their soldiers to the field with jammed riffles.

SHUCHI MAKOL, Fatehgarh Sahib


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