Hocky is our national game, something to be proud of, typically. And something at which we are supposed to be good, genuinely good that is.
However, the state of the game in our great country is not hidden from anybody. Hardly spoken of, the game seems to have become a toy in the hands of officials who hardly have any knowledge of the game. The players suffer and the game as well in perspective.
Recently, there was an episode about players' salaries. The poor guys had to go on "strike" to get their share of the money. Whereas the govt allocates crores and crores of rupees to the game, I wonder where does the money go if not on players' salaries or modernisation of the stadia. Or perhaps the officials are pocketing it away in the name of "empowering" the game and "spreading awareness". Well, this can very well happen in India and is no doubt one of the heads on which the money is being spent.
Then there is the general visibility of the game, though I know that its our national game, I am not sure how many others still remember Hocky as India's national sport. The thing is, with presistent poor performances, the game of hocky is almost forgotten, and with more and more media attention, Cricket has taken all the limelight.
Recently, just before the hocky world cup (hosted in india), there were a series of adverts on television wherein famous sportsmen (of other games) e.g. Rajyawardhan Singh Rathore, Virender Sahwag etc were advocating watching hocky matches and cheering for India. Doesnt it show the state of awareness the hocky federation wants to boost up. Pathetic, isnt it, that a sport that has the label of national sport, needs to be reminded to the public. And that too, without featuring any sportsman from that game itself. I wonder how many Indians would know of a few players' names from the team representing India in the world cup.
Then there is the real state of hocky, played by our team. I happen to miss the Pakistan game, which India won 4-1 and I happen to watch glimpses of the Spain match, which we had to win at all costs so that we are still in contention for the semi final spot.
The quality of Indian game was so bad, really bad, that you might confuse them for some school/college team. They couldnt handle passes, their marking of the opposition players was so bad that at times there was no one but the goal keeper to defend the goal (remember the goal by Spain's captain !!!).
At one point in the tv telecast, I caught the Indian coach helplessly shouting "pass...pass", and then bowing his head down in desparation, obviously no one listened to his words. Well, if the coach of the national team has to tell his players something as basic as this (to pass the ball), what can you expect...
The news report on the game by one of the newspapers next day was quite amusing. Apparantly the coach was caught on record saying that the mistakes were "childish". I have a feeling that the "authorities" would not be pleased with this remark from him and he would have to pay the price for this.
Good luck Indian Hocky...