Sunday, August 28, 2011

Indian stars in cold storage for two years

INDIAN hockey players Sandeep Singh (L) and Sardara Singh who have been banned for two years for indiscipline - PTI
In a development that can have serious repercussions on the Indian team’s future, Hockey India on Saturday banned senior players Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh for two years on grounds of indiscipline.
Drag-flicker Sandeep and midfielder Sardar had left the just-concluded national camp in Bengaluru on August 23, citing “family matters”.
There was more to the players’ sudden departure though, with reports of the duo being involved in an altercation with camp co-ordinator S.S. Grewal.
Sandeep and Sardar were also part of the five “rebel” players, who had left the camp mid-way last month to attend a function pertaining to the World Hockey Series, a league by the rival Indian Hockey Federation.
Some sections believe that the two were also under pressure from the IHF for “apologising” to HI, for their conduct.
Said Hockey India general secretary Narinder Batra here on the day, “This is the third offence in six months by these two players. Hockey India took note of the happenings and decided that enough was enough.
“Sandeep and Sardar have been banned for two years from all international and national events pertaining to Hockey India. It is sheer indiscipline and if we do not act now, it will influence the juniors in the team.”
The players, however, have been given 30 days time to appeal the ban, following which a five-member committee would decide on further action. They committee would consist of a member each from the Sports Authority of India, the Indian Olympic Association, a players’ representative and two HI officials.
On the day, Sandeep and Sardar — part of the China-bound Indian team for the Asian Champions Trophy beginning September 3 — were asked to explain their actions but the duo’s contradictory statements went against them.
Sardar, it was learnt, told the committee members that he had serious family problems that had lingered since the last three weeks. Sandeep cited family problems too, while also accusing Grewal of “using abusive language and misconduct”.
Said an official, “The general view was that the players had deserted the team in the most difficult times. If they had problems, they could have informed Hockey India in advance, and not three days before the team’s departure. The priority should be playing for the country, but sadly it hasn’t been the case with these two, even in the past.
“In today’s meeting, they stood their ground and also regretted their decision to leave the camp. It was highly contradictory.”
The players refused to comment on the matter, saying they “were contemplating what to do next”.
The duo were an integral part of chief coach Michael Nobbs’ plan over the next few years.


Rajpal: Controversies not a bother

Indian Hockey has been dogged by a spate of controversies in the recent past, including the pull-out of two senior players from the national camp, but captain Rajpal Singh (pic) feels that won’t affect the team’s performance in the upcoming inaugural Asian Champions Trophy.
“It is true that we have seen a lot of controversies in recent past but I can assure you that they will not affect us in the ground. All the players are in form and raring to go.
The atmosphere in the team is terrific,” Rajpal told PTI Bhasha.
The inaugural Asian CT will be played in Ordos, China from September 3 to 11.
While the team will be leaving on Sunday, Rajpal will go a day later after receiving the Arjuna Award on 29th of this month.
He also denied that the team will miss the services of seniors Sardara Singh and Sandeep Singh who left the national camp for personal reasons.
“We are not feeling any pressure due to their absence.
Their replacements (V.R. Raghunath and Vikas Sharma) are also equally talented. We have to groom the youngsters to field the best team in London Olympic qualifiers.”
Asked about the realistic goals in the tournament, he said this will be a launching pad for their preparations for London.
“Coach Micheal Nobbs has been telling us repeatedly that win or loss in this tournament does not matter. We will judge ourselves on the basis of performance in this tournament. It will tell us whether our preparations for qualifiers is on right track or not,” he said.
“We had won a bronze in Asiad, so naturally we would like to go a step further and play the final.”
Rajpal, who had a bitter face-off with previous coach Jose Brasa, described Nobbs as a good and understanding coach.
“Nobbs is a good coach. He is a disciplinarian and friendly with players as well. Being an Australian his emphasis is on attacking hockey. As fas as Brasa is concerned, there was a small misunderstanding with him. He is also a good coach,” he said.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Imran might have said that India will enjoy an edge over his team when the arch-rivals meet in Asian CT, but Rajpal is not thinking on those lines.
“We will face Pakistan in the last match. We will play four matches — against China, Japan, South Korea and Malaysia — before that. We can qualify for the final by winning first four matches and then the match again Pakistan will be irrelevant for us. We are not thinking about that match as of now.”

The Hindu