Railways arrange decent stay for athletes

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Two years ago, NDTV brought you the story of the railway hockey championship in Hyderabad.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:39 IST
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Two years ago, NDTV brought you the story of the railway hockey championship in Hyderabad where players were allotted accommodation in second-class bogies at the railway station. Those pictures shocked the country and it was promised that the practice would be stopped. The Railways have indeed done away with the age-old practice. Hockey players belonging to the Railways were to play a match at the Secunderabad Railway station in January 2004. Dingy accommodation They were in Hyderabad then to take part in the 64th Railway hockey championship and were made to stay in dingy, cramped and unhygienic railway compartments. After NDTV highlighted the plight of the players, the diktat came from the top, the then Railways Minister Nitish Kumar. He promised that rail bogies would henceforth not be used during railway championships as accommodation for players. So at the 65th championship, again being held in Hyderabad, the Railways for the first time ever, have shown the red signal to rail bogies. Players from 22 teams have been put up at sports and youth hostels. "When we used to stay in coaches, we faced problems of toilet and drinking water at the station. There was not much space to sleep in the second-class berth. Here we have been given a bed so players are able to rest,'' said DC Pandey, coach, RDSO hockey team. Risk of injury But the Railways are still not entirely out of the loop yet. The 14-day tournament is being played on an astroturf that has outlived its expiry date. "There is a great risk of injury while playing on this astroturf. So the player controls himself while playing,'' said Mukesh Kumar, former India hockey captain. That would not be music to the ears of Railway sports officials who would hope to select the cream of hockey talent from this championship. Despite employing the maximum number of hockey players the Railways today have no player in the Indian hockey team.