'Promised land' for players

Thirteen campers leave for Hyderabad after Hockey Indias approval

The 13 players -- part of the 17-member team that crushed South Korea 7-2 in the final of the Asia Cup at Chennai on September 9, 2007 -- were promised a plot of land by a private builder in Hyderabad then in appreciation of their achievement.

Having got the layout project approved now, the builder is set to host a function in Hyderabad on Wednesday afternoon during which the entire team -- including support staff -- islikely to be handed the documents for 200 square yards of land.

“The players had sent in a request to skip training session for a day to attend the function,” confirmed Hockey India Executive Director Anupam Gulati. “It is a good thing and rarely do we get to see such things happen for hockey players. We instantly gave them our approval and they shall report back to training on Thursday morning.”

Incidentally, Hockey India had temporarily suspended five players for skipping training and attending the World Series Hockey press conference during the first phase last month.

Gulati, however, said connecting the two events is wrong as the Hyderabad event is an acknowledgement of their glorious effort.

“This (players receiving land in Hyderabad) has been waiting to happen. It’s a productive thing and Hockey India is not averse to it,” said Gulati.

According to one of the coaches at the camp, 13 players left for the Hyderabad by bus on Tuesday night and will return to Bangalore on Thursday morning to resume training. Out of the 13 players, six will represent the country in next month’s inaugural Asian Champions Trophy at Ordos, China. Coach Michael Nobbs, meanwhile, welcomed the good gesture but said the missed session could prove vital.

“It’s fantastic and the boys go with my blessing. Hockey India has given them the permission. It’s not going to be easy when they come back on Thursday.”

The players: Adrian D’Souza, VR Raghunath, William Xalxo, Gurbaj Singh, Sardar Singh, Ignace Tirkey, Prabhjot Singh, Prabhod Tirkey, Rajpal Singh, Tushar Khandkar, SV Sunil, Vikramkanth, Roshan Minz, Baljit Singh, Dilip Tirkey, Jaswinder Singh, Bimal Lakra (last four are not part of the current camp).

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