Timely Sahara support helps resolve crisis

Hockey campers agree to resume training after Rs 1 crore promise

Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi brokered a deal which envisaged a long-term plan to meet the players’ financial demands which convinced the players to rejoin the camp which has been stalled for the last five days because of the payment dispute.

Kalmadi, who flew in here on Wednesday morning to negotiate with the protesting players, said that a full settlement has been reached with the protesting players but did not clearly specify how he intended to meet all the demands.

“Hockey has been our national game. It can never be a national shame. It will be our national pride. The players all feel that they want to bring up Indian hockey. I assured them of full support,” Kalmadi told a press conference after his meeting with the players.
Kalmadi, who is also Chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said that the Rs 1 crore given by sponsors Sahara India will be disbursed among the players within a week and all other issues would be settled in due course of time.

The settlement of the crisis, which has been dogging Indian hockey for some time, paves way for the players to rejoin the World Cup preparatory camp from Thursday.
The players, who were till Tuesday insisting on a written assurance from Hockey India that all their demands should be met, decided to withdraw the strike on only a verbal assurance from Kalmadi.

The settlement evoked a sense of relief in the hockey fraternity with former players and administrators welcoming the development which will now allow the players to focus on the February 28-March 13 World Cup in Delhi. Kalmadi also said that a Players’ Welfare Development Fund will be created and former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay, who played a key role in resolving the crisis, has been put in its charge. He also made it clear that no player will be targeted in future for boycotting the camp.
“No player will be targeted. They have done it within the decorum. I will also tell the next HI president to agree to the players’ demand,” he said.
He said that various state governments like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have promised financial support to the players, while some other corporate houses have also assured monetary help.

“In view of all this we have also decided to form another committee to look into the finances. This committee will be chaired by Hockey India president and will also include representatives from the IOA and players like Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh, MP Ganesh and Pillay,” he said.

Gill happy
Sports Minister MS Gill also welcomed the players’ decision to rejoin camp and said, “I have been watching the situation that prevailed for the last four days. I am happy that the players’ issues have been resolved.”

Kalmadi said the players have given him a list of their demands and they wanted a commitment on the graded payment system and solutions to some of their demands before the World Cup. “I have given them assurances, they are satisfied,” he added.
The players were clearly relieved as the episode came to an amicable end. "We are relived today. We were happy that everything has been settled and now we can concentrate on our preparations for the World Cup," goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza said. "We are a united lot and 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.

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