India goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza said the players are a much relieved lot after a peace was brokered between two warring parties. “Our unity was our main weapon in this fight. Every single player of the squad was behind each other and I am happy to say that we still are a united lot. I hope we will carry forward this unity on the field.
“World Cup is a battle and unity is necessary to win any battle. You will definitely witness this unity during the World Cup,” he said.
D’Souza said the IOA chief’s word of mouth was big enough assurance for them to call off the five-day long strike and resume training from Thursday. “The IOA President coming to meet us and assuring in front of the entire nation that he will see that all our dues and incentives be cleared within a week was enough for us.
“He assured us that he will put our all other demands, including the gradation system, before the new Hockey India officials once they are elected on February 7. He also assured us that gradation system will be worked out before the World Cup,” he added.
D’Souza’s team-mate Prabhjot Singh agreed with him and said the players are determined to put up an impressive show as a unit during the megaevent. “We are feeling really good and I am happy that everything has been sorted out early,” Prabhjot said.
“We were always united in the fight for our rights. And this unity is a good sign for the World Cup. Our proposals have met and the boys are all pumped up to give their best in the World Cup,” he added.
Prabhjot also said that Kalmadi’s assurance before the media was behind their decision to call off the strike. “Mr Kalmadi is the IOA President and he accepted our proposal before everyone, that was enough. He assured us that the gradation issue will be solved before the World Cup,” Prabhjot said.
“They (HI) were not ready to even assure us before anyone, leave alone giving us assurance in writing.
“But Mr Kalmadi was kind enough to assure us before the media,” he said.
Another senior player Deepak Thakur said there was no reason to disbelieve the IOA President’s promise. “Within one week our dues will be given. Mr Kalmadi has assured us that the new HI body will be looking into our demands. All we wanted is a secured future. We don’t want to remain insecure,” Thakur said.