Six top Indian hockey players pull out of WSH

Six top Indian hockey players pull out of WSH

Goalkeepers Bharat Chettri, Sreejesh, ace drag-flicker Sandeep Singh, Tushar Khandekar, Sardar Singh and rising star Yuvraj Walmiki assured their parent body Hockey India (HI) that they would not participate in the WSH, which is promoted by Nimbus Communications and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF). The WSH is also not sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).

The players, who are currently on national duty in the Champions Challenge I in South Africa, want the WSH to be postponed till the Olympic qualifers that would be held here from February 15.

In a letter to HI secretary-general Narinder Batra, the players said they would not be playing in the WSH, which is slated for December 17, and would attend the national camp for the Olympic qualifiers from December 11.

"We are not playing in the World Series Hockey event and we will be attending the national camp in Delhi for the Olympic qualifiers on December 11, 2011, until February 2012. We will be available for selection in the national team for the Olympic qualifiers," said the letter issued by HI, which bears the signatures of all the six players.

"We signed the contract with World Series Hockey under the impression that WSH will not force us to play and ask us to leave  the national camp," said the players, who are presently playing the Champions Challenge I tournament in South Africa. "We play for our country and that is a matter of honour and pride for us."

"We appeal to World Series Hockey to postpone their tournament after the qualifiers in the national interest," they said in the letter. Batra said it was a voluntary decision and there was no pressure from HI.

"It was a voluntary decision by the players and there was no pressure from Hockey India. We don't want the national camp to be hampered at the expense of an unsanctioned league," Batra told IANS.

IHF president R.K. Shetty said the players haven't approached them with any request. "The IHF haven't received any request from the players. We don't want to comment on what the HI is saying. It is a ploy to sabotage the WSH," Shetty said.

Nimbus' chief operating officer Yannick Colaco accused Batra of pressurising the players. "HI and Mr.Batra have been employing all methods to stop players from playing in WSH. In fact, a player told me that Batra is threatening them to withdraw from WSH or else they can't play for India," he said.

"As of now, we have received zero withdrawal, including all the Pakistani players. We have not heard anything from the six players. In fact, all the players have sent us the sizes and preferences for their kit," he said.

Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has also asked its players to stay away from the WSH.