Hockey stars to auction jerseys to raise money

June 4th, 2008 - 3:56 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh
By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, June 4 (IANS) Some of India’s top hockey players are auctioning their jerseys in a desperate bid to raise money for an annual hockey tournament that is starved of funds. Prabhjot Singh, Rajpal Singh and Deepak Thakur have come to the rescue of the Dharam Singh memorial hockey tournament after the organisers said they were facing a terrible cash crunch.

The auction will be held at a hotel in Chandigarh Thursday.

“We have to prevent our national game from becoming a national shame,” Sukhbir Singh Gill, an Olympian and organiser of the tournament, told IANS.

“This is the sixth edition of the annual tournament that started with six teams in 2003. Our endeavour to rope in corporate houses has failed. We get a lukewarm response each time we approach them,” he said.

Gill, who represented India in the 2000 Sydney Olympics, said that funds were normally raised because of personal contacts and by appealing to the goodwill of hockey lovers.

“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that hockey and football are still the favourite sport of the common man. But the reality on the ground is different,” Gill complained.

Ace Indian forward Rajpal Singh said: “We have no hopes from the government or sports authorities. So we are trying to involve the common man to raise funds for the tournament through this auction.”

“Prabhjot Singh and I are auctioning the jerseys we wore in the final of the Asia Cup 2007 against South Korea. India won the final 7-2, and both of us scored two goals each,” he said.

Deepak Thakur is auctioning the jersey he wore against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy in 2004. India won that match 7-4, Deepak scoring two vital goals.

Punjab’s sports director, former Olympian and former Indian hockey captain Pargat Singh, says no one has come to him for financial support.

“Till date no one has approached me. We are open to support the game with an appropriate plan,” Pargat Singh told IANS.

He also explained the limits of what movies ‘Chak de India’ can do for Indian hockey.

“Chak de can only generate feelings but we have to express those feelings through proper channel. Corporate houses today are very calculative. They know the risks and benefits of sponsoring. It is sad that these players are doing this auction instead of approaching us.”

This year, eight teams are taking part in the tournament, including Indian Oil, Bharat Petroleum, Indian Air Force and Punjab National Bank.

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