It is absolutely shameful that the Indian hockey players have had to resort to going on strike to get dues paid from Hockey India. Hockey India is offering players Rs. 25000 as outstanding dues for 2009. This is such a paltry sum that it sickens me to think of what we have made of our national sport and its great heritage.
Our greatest sporting glories have been provided by Hockey. India has won the Olympic Gold 8 times. This included a run from 1928 Amsterdam till 1956 Melbourne where nobody could even come close to matching the Indians. Forget winning a Gold we don't even have another medal in any other team sport at the Olympics in more than a 100 years of competition.
I find it hard to believe that in a country where a rookie cricketer like Ishant Sharma earns 3.8 crore and somelike Dinesh Karthik earns 2.1 crore for a few weeks of IPL we cannot offer our hockey players even a decent wage to represent the country. Some officials of Hockey India have turned around and accused the players of prioritizing Money over Country. Obviously these 'officials' don't understand the meaning of the word professional. How many of us will continue working without getting paid?
There are also those who feel the timing of the protest is not right as India is set to host the 2010 Hockey World Cup in six weeks time. 2010 also has the Asian Games, and the Commonwealth Games. I think the timing could not be better. It is high time that we as a country have egg on our face and our sporting administrative ineptitude is laid bare to the world.
I just hope no deal can be struck between the players and Hockey India which promises the players payment after the World Cup as suggested by the Sports Minister. We have obviously heard such hollow promises before. Either Hockey India pay the players upfront or we should not have a team to represent us at this event.
I urge all Indians to support the players. We have to make sure that they get a fair deal. The administrators cannot get away with this again. I urge all the Players in the team and even those who might be called up as replacements to stay together and not give in to the tactics of Hockey India. We need our national game back.