Hockey players protest over sops

Chak de has become the theme song for victory but while the cricket team is basking in its glory the hockey team feels orphaned.

updated: September 28, 2007 07:05 IST
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Bangalore, Hyderabad:

Chak de has become the theme song for victory but while the cricket team is basking in its glory the hockey team feels orphaned.

While the BCCI and state governments and local cricket associations have been showering the twenty20 champions with cash awards, cars and 'surprise' gifts, the men's hockey team has lodged a strong protest against what they call step motherly treatment by the government and the sponsors.

The Indian twenty20 squad has been awarded around Rs 80 lakh per head by the Indian cricket board for winning the world cup, and very well deserved too, but compare that to the Rs 50,000 the entire hockey squad earned for their Asia Cup win earlier this month.

The hockey team which recently won the prestigious Asia Cup tournament after four years went practically unnoticed except for a letter from President Kalam.

None of the state governments came forward to either felicitate or award the players. Air India which employs some of the cricket team members has announced out of turn promotions for them.

Rewards galore for Team India>>>

One can understand why the hockey team is so angry, in fact some of the players and staff have threatened to go on a hunger strike.

While the entire squad may not go on a hunger strike, it's clear that hockey is tired of being treated as the poor cousin of cricket.

Chief Coach of the national team Joaquim Carvalho was peeved that while title victory of his wards in the Asia Cup was ignored, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel and the state governments of Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Karnataka announced cash awards for the cricketers for winning the Twenty20 World Cup.

"Why are our hockey players being treated like orphans and why are our politicians biased against hockey, the national game?" Carvalho asked.

Apart from being ignored by the (Indian Hockey Federation) IHF, the state associations and state governments alike the hockey squad is also upset that even the sponsors have not acknowledged their achievements.

Sahara who sponsors both the cricket and hockey team, were quick to hand out houses to the twenty20 team but the hockey team didn't get anything.

"It was better during the British, at least they valued the game," said Aslam Sher Khan, Former Indian Hockey Captain.

The hockey squad says they are thrilled for the twenty20 win but they feel the time is right for all non-cricket sports to launch their protest against this step motherly treatment.

Many hockey players say may be it's time for hockey - India's national game - to gets its due.

And the greatest irony, the huge hit recorded for a film on hockey has now become symbolic for every cricket win.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka government has announced Rs 2 lakh each for players from the state in the hockey team, while the civil aviation minister has promised that members of Asia Cup winning Indian hockey team from Air India will be suitably rewarded.