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Monday, December 29, 2008

Corruption ruined the game: Dhanraj Pillay

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if I stated that 2008 has been one of the worst years for the national sport. We didn’t qualify for Olympics. It was the greatest disappointment.
The reasons for our failure are not limited to on-field performances alone. Instead, they spill over to administrative flaws. Lack of talented players in the team could be attributed to our dismal show. That in turn could be attributed to nepotism and partiality plaguing the selection committee.

Soon after this, images of the Indian Hockey Federation’s (IHF) secretary Jyothi Kumaran accepting bribes to secure spots for certain members in the squad were flashed across all television channels. That this incident marked the Black Day of Indian hockey.

This further exposed the overwhelming corruption in the IHF with KPS Gill at the helm of affairs. Gill’s 15 years of dictatorship finally came to an end. The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) took over the IHF and formed an ad-hoc committee headed by Aslam Sher Khan with former players Ashok Kumar, Ajit Pal Singh and Zafar Iqbal and myself to handle the sport. Ric Charlesworth resigned and the appointment of MK Kaushik as coach was wrought with controversy and we finally narrowed down on Harender Singh as men’s coach and AK Bansal as junior team’s coach.

The only silver lining has been the performance of the junior team, which retained the Junior Asia Cup by defeating South Korea. They also won the four-match series 1-0 against Junior World Champions Argentina.

2009 is going to be a very important year for hockey. There are qualifications for the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2010 World Cup. We hope that our efforts at clearing the mess that has plagued hockey work well in our favour.

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