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'Fire in belly' hockey heroes rewarded 'insult'

Sports body announces Rs 25,000 for each member of squad that lifted Asian Champions Trophy by routing Pak

The government's step-motherly treatment towards hockey seems to continue till eternity, irrespective of however much incredible feat the warriors of 'magic sticks' achieve.

A proud and jubilant squad of victors, who just lifted the Asian Champions Trophy and  the morale of game simultaneously, returned home to a rude shock.

Indian national hockey team captain Rajpal Singh, Sports minister Ajay Maken (centre) and Indian hockey coach Michael Jack Nobbs hold the champions trophy during a function in New Delhi yesterday


If you thought there would be a grand celebration of the historic victory, sea of fans waiting outside the airport to welcome the heroes and rewards worth crores of rupees pouring in on them, think again.

Hockey India announced a paltry reward of Rs 25,000 for each member of the victorious team.

The families of players in the team are proud of their sons who have won laurels for the country by lifting the coveted trophy, but they apparently are hurt by her biased approach of the state towards hockey.

"We have performed really well in the tourney and treated every match as if it were the last match of our lives.
 
I have just returned to Mysore and my parents and friends are overjoyed. But what the sports authorities did is very disappointing.

We are receiving wishes from fans and well-wishers, but we're now taking this with a pinch of salt.

We will continue to perform well and hopefully our achievement will be rewarded in a better way next time," said V Raghunath, a Karnataka player who was a part of the winning team.

Another player from the squad shared the same sentiments.

"It is an ironical situation for us. We are smiling and accepting accolades, but the moral has been affected. We did not lose a single match. Our friends and families are backing us and we have done them proud.

Even in the face of this huge dejection, we will continue to play better. For all of us playing for the country itself was a big thing," said Bharat Chetri, Indian goalkeeper.

Veterans fume
While mixed emotions ran through the team, former players were absolutely stunned at this insult of sorts. "I was not surprised at this behaviour of the management, but I never imagined that they would stoop down to such a level.

This is like hitting below the belt. Even in the 1980s, players would receive a reward of Rs 1 lakh.

What is really shocking is that a person sitting in such a senior position made a statement that hockey deserves only so much. I do not understand how such a person is sitting on that chair.
 
The secretary of Hockey India went on record to make such an insulting statement for cheap publicity. He should just shut his mouth for God's sake.
 
Anyways, the boys did not ask for any reward from anybody," said Ashish Ballal, former Hockey champion.

He claimed that the management might go to the extent of penalising a couple of players who went on the record against the 'insult'.

India's star player who was ruled out of the team due to an injury, Arjun Hallapa, is not pleased about the situation either. "This is shocking and I never expected such a thing.
 
No one asked for a reward. If they cannot boost the morale of players, they have no right to insult them. All players from the team do not hail from rich families, yet they have done their best in each game.

They have fought hard and won like champions," said the midfielder of hockey team.

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