Hockey players amazed over response to jersey auction

June 6th, 2008 - 3:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, June 6 (IANS) This auction had none of the ingredients of the mega Indian Premier League (IPL) auction. There were no celebrities, no super rich, no live media coverage, no big bucks - and no player on sale. Yet jersey number 15, worn by ace hockey forward Prabhjot Singh in the Asia Cup final against South Korea, went for Rs.95,000 at a unique auction here — to help promote Indian hockey.

Unlike the IPL, where top cricketers were auctioned for fancy amounts running into millions of dollars, the jerseys worn by Indian hockey players alone were put up for auction. And despite the anxiety of a few organisers, the hall where the event was held was full to the brim.

For Prabhjot’s jersey, Jalandhar-based businessman Sandeep Aggarwal, a manufacturer of hockey sticks, offered Rs.95,000 to own it.

Prabhjot had fired 15 goals for India in the tournament - returning as the highest goal scorer in the meet.

“We are always open for such noble causes. I will also persuade some of my businessmen friends to help hockey,” said Aggarwal, the highest bidder.

The jersey of another ace forward and teammate Rajpal Singh fetched Rs.75,000. He had worn it in the Asia cup finals, scoring two goals in the game. India beat South Korea 7-2 in the game.

Rajpal’s jersey was bought by Australia-based Rajpal Sandhu.

Olympian Deepak Thakur, who was not present at the auction, had his jersey auctioned for Rs.60,000. He wore it for a Champions Trophy-2004 match against Pakistan that India won 7-4. It was bought by Bhupinder Singh of Allahabad.

The unique auction was held to collect funds for organising the sixth edition of the Dharam Singh Memorial Hockey Tournament in Chandigarh June 8-12.

Eight leading teams from various organisations are participating in this annual tournament.

The organisers had set a reserve price of Rs.25,000 for the jerseys. The bidders came from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Australia.

Hockey players, past and present, who came for the event, said they were surprised at the response. They said that it was for the first time that something like this (auction) had happened in the game of hockey.

“We are fed up with the step-motherly attitude of the authorities towards hockey. I hope this auction will awaken them to end the suffering of this sport. We always knew that the common man is with us and a huge turnout of people for today’s auction is a testimony to it,” asserted Rajpal Singh.

Auction and tournament organiser Sukhbir Singh Gill told IANS: “I am happy with today’s auction but still there is a long way to go. Money that we have collected today will go entirely for the tournament.”

“There is very little help from the government. If we go to sponsors, they ask infinite questions and their demands are too many. After days of negotiations what we get is just Rs.5000-7000. That is a pittance,” added former Olympian Gill.

One participant at the auction, Jinendra Kumar, donated Rs.10,000 for the tournament.

A young girl who said she could not afford the high reserve price of the jerseys was assured by players Prabhjot and Rajpal that they would give her one of their jerseys since she had shown such interest in the sport.

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