December 19, 2005

Indian Hockey Fed worst-run hockey organisation: FIH

For company, the IHF has the Indian cricket association. A den of politics and backstabbing instead of meritocracy and excellence in sports, these 2 associations highlight the sad state of Indian sports.  
Shape up or ship out. This is the hard-hitting message from the international hockey federation (FIH) to the K P S Gill ensemble.
   In a conversation with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) chief here a few days ago, FIH president Els van Breda Vriesmann pulled no punches when she said the IHF was the worst run organisation among the top hockey playing countries in the world.
   There was purpose and urgency in Vriesmann’s tone as she pointed out that India deserved a better deal from its stuttering federation.
   “India is a big market and one of the fastest growing economies in the world. We need a strong India to promote the game globally. We cannot afford to have the Indian federation running the sport so unprofessionally in the country. It reflects badly on the game.”
Citing the example of television rights for the Chennai Champions Trophy, Vriesmann said the FIH was disappointed with the desperate scramble by the IHF to get Doordarshan to telecast the event on its national network.
“They should have had a contract in place a year ago. They let us down very badly. There was no news on this front till about a month before the tournament when they said they had the Chennai DD in place. Then came the offer from the national network. We were forced to change the schedule. All these things are very disappointing.”
Vriesmann said the FIH had invited flak from the teams by agreeing to change the match schedule, but was prepared to stick by its decision only because the game stood to gain by DD’s entry. “There are allegations that we did it for money. If you think we had that in mind, you are wrong. The terrestrial rights belong to the Indian federation. We don’t get any benefit except promotion of the game.”
The FIH chief also told Gill that it was his responsibility to rid the game of many other irritants that have undermined India’s status on the international front.
“We want hockey in India to do better. And it is Gill responsibility to ensure that. It is his duty towards the sport and the players. We all know that players are suffering; they are the worst hit in this country. All thanks to inefficient organisation. There is apathy and lack of professionalism in every aspect.” When asked whether she offered any suggestions to Gill, Vriesmann said: “I don’t think I have to offer suggestions to him. I think he is clever to know what is wrong.
“But I have made my stand known, particularly when it comes to administration. If you take the big countries, they all have a group of professionals running sports organisations. As such, the organisation does not depend on its leadership so much.
“For example, if the president is not elected, the body still functions efficiently with the staff taking the sport forward. India should opt for this model.”
The FIH president was upbeat about the progress made in China. Being another of those big economies that has attracted the world body, hockey in China has received special attention in the past few years and Vriesmann felt it was time the country got an opportunity to prove themselves on the big stage.
“We have had coaching courses in China for a few years now. Now, we have allotted the World Cup qualifiers in that country because we wanted to give the Chinese team an opportunity to qualify for the 2006 World Cup. Without this meet, it would have been impossible for China to be in the line-up. They have qualified as hosts. We don’t know whether they are good enough. But looking at the progress China have made, they stand a good chance. The country has already qualified for the 2008 Olympics (as host) and that is another big boost.”
   However, Vriesmann felt a lot needed to be done in that country. “The sport is small in China. The number of players is limited.
   “We need to popularise the game more there. We ought to get the sport regularly on television. We already have contracts with local TV in Shanghai and Beijing but we should get it on national TV.
   “I am sure the Beijing Games will tell us where the game is heading whether it will take off or remain low profile.”

Gill passes buck to Govt

By Pradeep Kumar/TNN
Chennai: While the international hockey federation (FIH) labelled the Indian Hockey Federation as the worst run hockey organisation in the world, IHF supremo KPS Gill was quietly palming the blame for the mess on the India government.
   In a recent interview, Gill said the government is ignoring the game in the country.
   And when queried whether he could not change the system which he is very much a part and parcel off, Gill said: “Orientation is the main problem. I tried my best. But it’s impossible to change their views and ideas about the game. It’s a wonder we are rated
   sixth in the world despite the kind of facilities which we have to work with,’’ he said.
   Asked if the country needs a European coach, Gill said the hockey’s governing body had some correspondence with Australian Ric Charlesworth some time ago. “But we can’t afford to pay the kind of money he is asking. European coaches are too expensive. Further they don’t know what is happening here.”
   On the current team, Gill said the defence and midfield are doing a good job, but the forwards were found lacking. “We need sprinters in the forwardline. They should able to run 100m in 11 seconds. We need that kind of speed,” he said.
   The former DGP said the corporate sector and television are not supporting the game. “The support from the corporate sector is very disappointing. There is no adequate TV coverage for the game.’’
   Asked if India missed the services of Dhanraj Pillay, Gill said: “When Dhanraj was playing we were in seventh position. But now we are in the sixth spot.”

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