The Indian women’s hockey team has qualified for the Rio Olympics on a day that happens to be legendary Major Dhyan Chand’s birth anniversary, also celebrated as National Sports Day.
Ashok Kumar (left) and Dhanraj Pillay (centre) at the Sports Authority of India’s Kandivli campus on Saturday. Pic/Nimesh Dave
While Dhyan Chand’s son, Ashok Kumar, is glad that the women’s team incidentally made the cut on his father’s 110th birth anniversary, he feels that it’s high time the women are treated at par with men.
“Even when my father was playing hockey, there was a women’s team that was playing well. But they were never taken seriously. The trend still continues. There is a clear divide in the manner in which the men’s team and women’s team are treated. The discrimination is there not just in hockey, but even other sports like cricket and football. It’s time we treat them at par with men,” said Kumar, who was in the city on Saturday to witness the final of the Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Tournament at Sports Authority of India, Kandivli.
Kumar lamented the fact that female players were never nurtured in the country. “When a boy played hockey, the talent was spotted and nurtured. That was never the case when a girl picked up a hockey stick. Had we given attention to the women’s hockey, the scenario today would have been quite different,” said Kumar, a four-time hockey World Cupper.
“The women's’ team has been suppressed for a long time. They have the hunger in them to prove themselves. I feel that this women’s team can spring a surprise and achieve what the 1980 team could not,” he said.