Jun 2, 2011

Why is Hockey India wrong in not sending team for Junior Asia Cup

Hockey India has decided that it is not going to send a team for Men Junior Asia Cup. Hockey India's executive director Mr. Anupam Gulati has said that, Hockey India is not going to send team for Junior Asia Cup due to delay in the team selection for the tournament and the nationals to select the team will conducted in the July. Anupam Gulati also said that the tournament is not recognized by the FIH.

First of all, Junior Asia Cup is recognized by the FIH and the words above say a lot about the working of Hockey India. The first question that comes out is, Doesn't Hockey India know which tournament is recognized of which tournament is not recognized by the FIH? Also, it is job of Hockey India to see the upcoming schedule and send the team for various tournaments accordingly. On one hand Hockey India is not sending a team for Junior Asia Cup as it is not recognized, while on the other hand it is sending a team for the women's edition of Junior Asia Cup which is due to start on 4th June 2011.

Chairman of developing committee Pargat Singh said that they did not get any proposal to select the team for the Junior Asia Cup.

This is not the main concern (not knowing about recognized or unrecognized tournaments), the main concern is development of young hockey players. Indian Hockey has always been more interested in conducting coaching camps than conducting matches with other countries. It is a common known fact that match practice is more important that the training camps. Indian national team (senior) last year played Hamburg Masters and had test match with three countries which helped Indian team lot in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

India will host Junior World Cup next year and it would have been great practice for the players to play in the international level before a major tournament. But, Hockey India's decision will prove costly for the future in hockey. Indian team already has very few players at its disposal and with a very limited pool of players, it will be difficult to find replacement for the current stars.

Junior tournaments has done a great for Indian team, in the early 2000's it brought the likes of Gagan Ajit Singh, Jugraj Singh, Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh which turned out to be a great asset for the team. Later players like Sandeep Singh also came up from the Junior team and represented India in the senior level.

Since its existence, Hockey India has not conducted nationals for the juniors (they are going to conduct it for the first time in July). Hockey India is more interested in fighting with Indian Hockey Federation for the status of sole governing body of Indian Hockey. Because of the fight with IHF, Hockey India has not paid much attention towards the development of the players, be it junior or senior level (non-availability of the basic facilities is a clear example of that).

Hockey India must start looking at the development of the players and conduct tournament and test matches which will help the junior to gain match experience and better understanding of the game. It is up to Hockey India to decide what it wants to do, fight with IHF to gain the status for sole representative of hockey in India and be happy about the victory or work for the development of the players which will help India to be world force in hockey once again.

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