Thursday, August 5, 2010

Hockey India's D-Day

Hockey India elections to be held today
S. Thyagarajan - The Hindu Chennai: Is there an end to this charade? This is the poser confronting hockey community as Hockey India is set for elections on Thursday thanks to a directive from the Supreme Court.
What the equations will be are unfathomable when the three-time Olympian Pargat Singh (45) takes on veteran administrator Vidya Stokes (83) for the post of president. Given the complexities that arose while compiling the Electoral College, it is difficult to discern the voting pattern.
Sadly, a few administrators whose professionalism and personal integrity were beyond reproach have been consciously sidelined for no palpable reason. That perhaps underlines the cause for multiple court cases while framing the list of eligible voters.
The fabric of hockey administration was destroyed in the haste to create a new administrative apparatus. The initiative to this exercise emerged from the Indian Olympic Association prompted by the International Hockey Federation.
The suspension of the Indian Hockey Federation in the wake of the failure of the team to make the grade to the Olympics for the first time in 80 years triggered a chain of moves from forming the ad hoc committee to setting up a new entity christened Hockey India. It is not wholly relevant to reiterate the trials and tribulations the sport had to wade through since 2008 owing to the chaos in governance.
Four main players
There are four main players — IOA, Sports Ministry, HI and IHF — each with an inflexible agenda. IOA's role in the choice of members eligible to vote a favoured group is incontestable. Almost every move carried the IOA stamp.
For its part the FIH needlessly poked its nose in the administration. If it had refrained from giving India a special package after the disastrous show in the World Cup at Monchengladbach, things would not have come to this pass. The programme, a brain child of the then President, Ms. Els flopped leaving many in the FIH embarrassed by the sheer scale of the futile expenditure.
The recognition to HI without proper evaluation of the ground realities accentuated the problem of forming properly constituted administration. The only concern for FIH then was to conduct the World Cup in Delhi. It even went to the point of breaching the earlier contract with IHF.
The event was a triumph for FIH's marketing team. The World Cup opened a new window. Now, FIH is bending backwards to offer premier competitions.
Steadfast in its approach to implementing the guidelines, the Sports Ministry, is another significant player. The show cause notices issued to HI and the resurrected IHF have added a new dimension. While the IHF has responded favourably, the un-elected members of the HI have opted to toe the IOA line of not accepting the guidelines, even to the extent of spurning Government's assistance.
On the other hand, Pargat Singh has taken a pragmatic view. He has vowed to bring all factions under one umbrella and concentrate on opening a new chapter.
The voters in Thursday's election should weigh in the advantages of having an Olympian at the helm, ready to work in step with the Government, or voting a group that will be in constant conflict with the Ministry.
In the current scenario, what with the prestige of the NOC plummeting to a nadir in the wake of the accusations and revelations related to the conduct of the CWG 2010, an IOA-centric unit to govern hockey in the country is not a prescription for growth.
Even the FIH, which blindly backs IOA and its creation, HI, in its present format, needs to take a realistic view over the developments here.

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