The Maharashtra State government’s decision to cancel the lease of the land allotted to the Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA) may have stunned the association’s officials. However, those closely linked to the game had seen this coming, given the body’s haphazard functioning.
Clearly, hockey in Mumbai has dwindled and the MHA — irrespective of which committee has been in power and for how long — must be held responsible for this. From a time when closely contested Super League encounters were watched under floodlights by a sizeable audience, to a scenario where teams struggled to even control the ball across a disgracefully torn astro-turf surface, Mumbai hockey has suffered a reverse-hit.
MHA’s lost priorities (hosting wedding receptions at the cost of promoting hockey) are the chief reasons for the sport’s downfall.
At a time, when sport, if professionally managed, attracts huge revenue that should be used for development, the MHA continues to resort to age-old ways to fill their coffers.
It is high time, the officials approach corporate bodies and institutions with concrete plans for the development of the game and put that money to good use. Organising camps and running tournaments regularly and professionally should be high on the priority list. This can be only possible with professionals running the game.
The new rulers of the sport in the city must welcome events like the multi-million dollar franchise-based World Series Hockey. This will help beef up their finances.
The termination of lease should be viewed with an open mind. Maybe, things will not be so bad if the government runs the show although their track record in this particular sphere may not impressive. But if they can get the right kind of mix of ex-players and officials to be beacons for this struggling sport, then brighter days are ahead.
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