Two days ago, while surfing the Internet, I came across a shocking piece of information on a certain news channel. They were showing a long shabby room with many cots lined up, walls without paint and dirty stinking toilets . It is certainly hard to believe, but that was the stay arrangement for our National Women’s Hockey Team. Their conditions were so miserable that they were even ashamed of showing their faces to the cameras. To think that they play for the country!
Last year, during one of the tours, our cricket team were given smaller rooms than their usual luxury accommodation. Though they were given rooms in a 5 star hotel, this went on to create a major upheaval. The ‘issue’ received enormous media coverage. Whereas here, I think, barring one or two newspapers, no one really put forward the real plight faced by the members of the National Women’s Hockey Team.
2007’s major blockbuster movie, Chak De India, was based on the women hockey team and its title track was played at the Twenty20 Cricket World Cup matches. However, I doubt that we have learnt any lessons from the inspirational film.
Recently, when the hockey team was to be given Rs. 5 lacs to buy equipment for their Australian tour, the money did not reach the team and they were forced to sponsor the whole tour out of their own pockets. The person responsible for the distribution of money stated to the the media, when questioned, that the money could not be wasted on buying equipments for an unsuccessful team. I find it even more unfair that the news was reported in just one newspaper, and that too in a fairly insignificant manner. To think that we can easily spend a whopping $723 million in buying equipments for State cricket teams. However, even Rs. 5 lacs cannot be spared to buy equipments for the National Women’s Hockey Team, let alone in providing them with a decent lodging. It is no news that the gentlemen’s game has received, and is receiving, more than enough media attention. Yet our national sport, hockey, is just sinking to abysmal depths. Movies can be made and will continue to be made, but reality shows us that when officials are not interested in improving the team’s future, even a superstar can not be of much help.
This news piece also raises another key issue – that of gender discrimination. Our Men’s Hockey Team is not as badly treated as compared to the piteous state of the Women’s Hockey Team. Games and sports are above gender and discrimination of any kind. Such bias only discourages the youth and when they come across this sort of treatment being meted out to the players, they feel discouraged to come forward and play for their country. It is up to the Government to encourage the youth, give them incentives, and save our national sport before it is too late.