Indian hockey team’s preparation for the London Olympics is in jeopardy as the Sports Ministry is yet to approve the training camp, which was scheduled to start at the SAI centre in Bangalore from Monday.
The delay on part of Sports Ministry, who was intimated about the camp last November, has left the players in the lurch. And the never-ending tug of war between Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) is not doing the players any good.
“HI had submitted a revised long-term development programme to the Sport Ministry and SAI in November after consulting the various Federations. The camp starts tomorrow but the govt is yet to get back to us,” said a HI official.
HI had submitted a proposal to the ministry on November 19, requesting for the commencement of a camp for the senior men’s hockey team subject to qualification for the London Games.
HI sent another letter to the ministry and SAI on December 8 and, after India qualified for the Olympics after winning the qualifiers, the federation wrote another letter on February 27th, requesting the ministry to approve and sanction the camp.
On March 1, SAI executive director PC Kashyap also wrote to the ministry to convene a meeting to discuss the approval of the proposed camp, but the HI is still waiting for a response from the govt.
“India’s preparation is suffering, the players were supposed to reach Bangalore today but now they are waiting at their home, even coach Michael Nobbs too is in Delhi,” the source said.
“Without a sanctioning letter from the ministry, the camp cannot start in Bangalore as SAI will not allow the players to assemble there.
“I don’t know what is the problem with the camp in Bangalore as it is not even a venue for the ongoing World Series Hockey (WSH),” he added.
The IHF-backed WSH has been the bone of contention between the warring HI and IHF and the stand-off has resulted in most of the national players skipping the tournament, fearing a ban from International Hockey Federation (FIH), which approves HI.
The ongoing WSH started three days after the qualifiers.
The ministry has been supporting the WSH, which was postponed in December for the Olympic qualifiers, but its inaction regarding the approval of the camp has left players confused and also affected their Olympics preparation.
The Madhya Pradesh government, meanwhile, has stepped in saying they would bear the entire cost of the camp if HI wants to host the training camp there.
“The MP govt has supported the camp and said they are ready to host the camp there and they would spend all the money if the central govt doesn’t approve the camp,” the source said.