Thursday, August 30, 2007

Chak De - Let it not just be flavour of the season

I'm sure the movie inspired many a blogger to come up with something. My earliest memory of the game goes back at least 20 years. My team won the Inter-class tournament way back in Class V and that was the time I seriously took up the sport. I did fairly well in the game, went on to represent my school and even played at the National level. Some of the boys against whom I played; today play for India (Gagan Ajit Singh is one example). I learnt the game Rajinder Singh, the coach of the boys team in the movie - so I guess I am fairly qualified to comment on the movie and the game.

The movie though predictable (you couldn't have us losing, could you) was thoroughly enjoyable. It gave me serious bouts of nostalgia to the extent that I was screaming foul, penalty corner, fall back & 1-2 in my head !! The movie is currently flavour of the season - but I hope it just doesn't stay that way. Lets hit the hammer while the metal is hot.

I am sure there are thousands who would have just discovered (much to their horror) that cricket is NOT the national game - it is hockey instead. Do you know that India has won 8 hockey golds in the Olympics - no other team comes remotely close. Do you know that Sansarpur, a tiny village outside Jallandhar has produced 14 Olympians. You also might know that the President of the Indian Hockey Federation is KPS Gill the supercop from Punjab.

Now you may ask what business does he have in hockey - well the same what Sharad Pawar has in Cricket and Priyaranjan Das Munshi in Football. And that is what plagues Indian sport. Our sports federations are run by people who have no skill whatsoever in the game. People, who leave alone representing the country, would have found it tough qualifying for the waterboy in their school team.

The day Gill came on board, he started treating his players as if they were recruits of the Babbar Khalsa. His autocratic ways took their toll on anyone who dared oppose him. The one person who spoke against him was sidelined and his international career brought to a premature end. Dhanraj Pillay spoke against the improper ways of the IHF post the Busan Asiad win, and he was promptly ejected from the team - where else (bar the PCB, who's chief patron is Musharraf) will you see such a thing happening?

Some of the greatest players of Indian hockey have been my mentors at some point of time or the other. Today they are content with their government flats and their kids are running the petrol pumps that were awarded to them. Ask them about giving back to the game and all you'll be staring at dejected faces and shrugged shoulders. Nobody wants to get into the muck the game has become.Nobody wants to mess with the politics.

They also laughed and cheered with us during the movie, but sadness tinges their voice when I talk to them about it. I was chatting with a former Olympian this morning, he said "Oh kuch nahi hona, lokkan ne sab bhul jaana hai, munde bahar nikal ke kirkat kheddange, hockey sirf o jaange jinna ne sarkari naukri te flat lai ke chup kar jaana hai. Eh sab drama hai - je badalna hi hai, te sab to pehlon politician nu game to kaddon - to player no khidao... fir vekho ki honda hai" (Nothing is going to happen, after the movie all of them will go back to playing cricket. The ones who play hockey are content with a flat or a government job. This is all a sham, if you want to change something then first get the politicians out of the game. Get the players to run it and then see what happens)

I just hope someone, somewhere wakes up and decides to do something about it. Thank you Chak De for giving this glimmer of hope, thank you Yashraj - you've made a worthwhile movie after a long long time.


Sidhusaaheb said...

I think what is required is more transparency in the system. It should be good, if the game is managed by an amalgam of former players and professional managers. Politicians definitely have to be kept out of it.

chandni said...

its a lovely post nomad....I haven't played the sport ( or any for that matter) but my mom was a national player! And sadly, women's hockey is just not on anyone's radar....

But really, the way we treat the sport and our sportsmen, it is a shame that we call it our national game...we might as well make cricket our national game....

Ranganath Eunny said...

I remember the days in school (I dabbled a bit with hockey too). There were these young cricket players in Standard 7 and 8 who were good and went to the local selections for an Under 18 (or under 15) team. They were made to bowl all day long in the heat and swelter. They did well. Then one of the selectors came to them and asked them point out Rs 3000 (mind you this was in the 80's) and you will be in the team. Not just politicians but all those crass middlemen too!!!