State hockey units up in arms over new set-up

June 4th, 2009 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, June 4 (IANS) Indignant superseded state units of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) condemned the Indian Olympic Association’s move to form another ad hoc body after what they call running the game through proxy for over a year and termed it “illegal, unconstitutional and reprehensible.”
The disaffiliated IHF units now plan to meet in New Delhi next week to decide the “future course of action.”

IOA president Suresh Kalmadi Wednesday announced the registration of Hockey India (HI), merging the men and women’s federations to meet the merger deadline set by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), failing which it had threatened to take away not only the 2010 New Delhi World Cup but also bar the Indian team from participating in international tournaments.

Kalmadi, who had been promising to hold IHF elections for over six months, has once again said an elected HI would be in place within six months.

Leading the attack on the IOA, K. Krishnamurthy, secretary, Karnataka State Hockey Association,

said Kalmadi’s latest move has raised more questions.

“I would like to know on what grounds did the IOA take this decision to form Hockey India or whatever they wish to call it? Was this discussed and ratified by the IOA executive committee? Why didn’t the IOA take into confidence the state hockey units who have been kept in the dark and totally ignored for the past one year? These are some of the many questions that we will be addressing when we meet in New Delhi next week,” an articulate Krishnamurthy told IANS Thursday.

The New Delhi conclave of the State associations/units is an initiative of J.B. Roy, president, Bengal Hockey Association.

Krishnamurthy pointed out that since dissolving the IHF last year in the wake of India’s failure to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the “sting operation” that led to the resignation of the secretary-general, K. Jothikumaran, the IOA has not made any effort to convene the general body to conduct election.

“We were not unhappy that the IHF was suspended, but then, we expected the IOA to call for fresh election so that a new administration would be in place to conduct the country’s hockey affairs. Instead, the IOA has now, after 13 months, made an unilateral and questionable move to form Hockey India. The new body is made up of mostly non-hockey officials. You mean to say there are no capable hockey officials in India?” Krishnamurthy fumed.

“Hockey affairs should be run by people who know the game or have been involved in the sport. How can you have a boxing official (A. K. Mattoo, president, Hockey India) as the head of hockey administration?”

Echoing his views, T. Jesudanam, president, Andhra Hockey Association, and one of the senior-most hockey administrators in the country, said: “There is no legitimacy to IOA’s move to institute Hockey India. Instead, they could have convened a general body meeting and conducted election, something we have been demanding for the past one year.”

Tamil Nadu Hockey Association president Vasudevan Baskaran felt that of more importance is the need to revive domestic hockey rather than indulge in politics.

“We have the World Cup, Asian Games and Commonwealth Games coming up next year. There is an urgent need to identify fresh talent and groom a side for the future. That should be our priority,” he said.

Baskaran questioned the nomination of Mattoo as the president of the new organization. “I am not sure how a boxing official can run Indian hockey.”

Adding spice to this pot-boiler is the pending court case initiated by ousted IHF president K.P.S. Gill who has questioned the legality of IOA’s move to dissolve the federation. The oft-adjourned case is scheduled for a hearing in July.

The cross-section of hockey officials one spoke to were convinced that the IOA has exceeded its brief in its handling of the hockey imbroglio. But over-riding every other concern is the deep anger and hurt that Kalmadi has ridden roughshod over the state units.

“The whole thing smacks of cloak-and-dagger. Hockey India was formed last month and yet, nobody was even aware of it. Kalmadi and the IOA kept this under wraps for nearly two weeks before going public only yesterday,” Krishnamurthy said.

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