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HI could afford only Rs.25,000 for each player: Batra

Hockey India (HI) secretary general Narinder Batra Wednesday said the federation could afford to give out only Rs.25,000 in reward to each member of the Indian team that won the men's Asian Champions Trophy in China.

The players, including captain Rajpal Singh, have rejected the "pittance" of a cash reward.

Batra admitted that the amount was paltry, but that is the "best" Hockey India could offer.

"We have to operate within limited resources. It is unfortunate that we can only give this much but that was the budget available with us. It should be taken as a blessing rather than looking down upon it. The federation cannot give more than this amount," Batra told a TV news channel.

Batra said he will be talking to the entire team to explain the federation's point of view.

"I would love to get them a crore each, but keeping the current financial situation (of HI) it is not possible. I will be talking to the entire team on the issue and I am sure they will understand our limitations."

Skipper Rajpal Siingh said the sport won't attract youngsters if the players are not rewarded adequately. Rejecting the HI reward, he told a TV news channel that his team was disappointed by the hollow claims of Sports Minister Ajay Maken to revive the sport in the country.

"The federation has failed to meet our expectations. This is not the way to treat the national players. The money should be better not just for the motivation of the current crop of players, but also for the future generations who'd like to take up the national sport," Rajpal said.

Another senior player, Gurbaz Singh said players have outrightly rejected the cash award as it was "a pittance".

"We refused to accept Rs.25,000 because it is a very small reward considering our achievement," he said.

Gurbaz said such awards will not encourage the players.

"We did not expect such a small amount, considering the fact that hockey is our national game. If such things continue, there will be a day when there will be very few youngsters interested in playing hockey. They would rather opt for cricket or any other individual sport," he said.

India won the Asian Champions Trophy by defeating arch-rivals Pakistan 4-2 in a shootout in the final.

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