This is no school team, fume players

Agitating hockey campers refuse to budge, walk out of meeting with HI
Last Updated 12 January 2010, 17:16 IST

Captain Rajpal Singh and senior players Prabhjot Singh, Dipak Thakur, Adrian D’Souza and Arjun Halappa said the HI offer of Rs 25,000 per player would suit a school side and not a national team and the rebel players are mentally prepared to leave the camp here.
Dismissing HI allegation that the players put money before national honour, Rajpal said: “Hockey India said they don’t have money. In that case, we don’t want to increase their burden and all 22 players are ready to fund our own World Cup preparation. But the thing is they have to give us written assurance which they are not ready to do,” Rajpal said.

Striker Dipak Thakur also claimed that contrary to HI claims, the players were not chasing money. “Nothing comes before nation, not even money. And why is it so that only the players have to think about the nation and not the administrators? We have an important event round the corner and that’s why we raised the issue now. Had we raised it earlier, it would have been swept under the carpet,” Dipak said, justifying the timing of the revolt.

Prabhjot, meanwhile, was furious with the HI offer and said it was humiliating for a national side. “For God’s sake, this is not a school team that you offer RS 25,000 per player. We expected something more sensible from them.
“They promised us Rs one crore each if we win World Cup and said they would get the money from wherever they can. Why cannot they do the same now and give us the incentives for our podium finishes last year?
“And if they really don’t have the money to run the federation, why don’t they quit?” asked the forward.

Goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza was slightly more articulate than his team-mates and said the players were fine with HI claims that they did not have enough money but was surprised by their reluctance to give any written assurance.
Conceding it was an unfortunate episode, D’Souza said the players were sad about it. “We don’t want it to go to the extent where India has to field a ‘B’ team and I can tell you that we would not be happy and celebrate if we have to go back home from the camp,” he said.
“We want a written assurance so that we can show it if the next HI set-up challenges our claims.
“You would not believe we got a daily allowance of USD 20 in our last tour of Argentina. And when we won the Azlan Shah Cup last year, the amount was USD 14,” D’Souza said.

(Published 12 January 2010, 17:05 IST)

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