Team India set to skip World Series

Players eager to turn out for the country at the London Olympic Games, says captain Chetri

The World Series Hockey is due to kick-start on Wednesday, but it has emerged that the 18 players of the Indian team that qualified for the London Olympics in thumping fashion have decided to give the lucrative league a miss.

The entire squad had deliberated upon the decision even before the FIH Olympic Qualifiers started in New Delhi before finally arriving at the conclusion on Monday, a day after they crushed France 8-1 in the final.

“We had actually discussed this issue even before the start of the Qualifiers,” Indian team captain Bharat Chetri told Deccan Herald.

“We didn’t want to talk about it because we wanted the entire focus to be on qualifying for the London Games after what had happened in Chile four years back.

“All of us had a meeting today and decided not to take part in the WSH. We have realised our first goal of qualifying for London, and we now want to do well there. The team is gelling well and we don’t want to break the rhythm. We have a camp starting in Bangalore in March and all of us will report there.

“We just have four-five months for the Olympics and every day is important. We want to train hard and don’t want to jeopardise our chances. The country always comes first for us,” added Chetri, who was to play for Chennai Cheetahs’ in the WSH.

The International Hockey Federation on Monday said it can give a nod to the lucrative WSH only if the two warring factions – Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) – reached an agreement. WSH is organised by IHF, which the world body does not recognise.

Asked if they would participate in the league if HI and IHF reached a truce, Chetri said the country always came first and the entire set of players will report to the camp.

Another player, on condition of anonymity, said the team chose to stay away from WSH as they don’t want to risk their chance of being a part of the Olympics.

“Olympics is a dream for any sportsperson. No amount of money can buy that.

Having achieved it, why risk it? Most of us are playing really well and our standards have gone up in the last six months.

“Most of us who played in Delhi are near-certainties for the Olympics. We also have a brilliant rapport with the team management and ruining that will be suicidal. Moreover, we are getting enough cash benefits following our victory yesterday. There is no point in being greedy for more.”

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