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MHA cries foul in lease case

Mumbai Hockey Association Hon Secretary Ram Singh Rathor says former committee members criticising the body now did nothing during their reign, but ex-panel member Joaquim Carvalho stands firm

A Series of allegations and counter-allegations between the Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA), and former players and ex-MHA committee members have emerged following the Maharashtra State government’s directive to cancel the lease of the plot allotted to MHA. Inappropriate management of the association was cited as a reason.


An aerial view of the flood-lit MHA Stadium. (Inset) MHA Hon secretary Ram Singh Rathor & ex-committee member Joaquim Carvalho 

In a directive issued on October 17, the government, as a consequence of a meeting in July between prominent Mumbai-based former India hockey players, Shiv Chhatrapati awardees, Arjuna awardees etc and the then deputy chief minister of Maharashtra Ajit Pawar, decided to cancel MHA’s land lease and ordered the Deputy Director of Sports & Youth Affairs to take possession of the property immediately and plan a regional or district sports academy in its place.

MHA Hon Secretary Ram Singh Rathor though said the allegations against them are baseless. “Some of the former players like Joaquim Carvalho and Gurbux Singh, who were ex-MHA committee members, have claimed that we have not given clubs importance. But I’d like to clarify that we called for a meeting of all clubs within 15 days of coming into power in August. That’s something these members never did when they were in power for 33 months before us,” Rathor told MiD DAY yesterday.

Carvalho countered this: “What was the purpose of that meeting? Did they offer the clubs membership or voting rights? No. Secondly, that this meeting was a sham is proved by the fact that it was attended by just 12 clubs of the 70 that are affiliated to MHA,” explained Carvalho.

Another question Rathor raised was why were memberships to players not offered during the time the previous committee held power. “If they are asking for memberships for all Mumbai-based ex-internationals, why did they offer membership to a person called Nanjappa, who never played for India,” asked Rathore.

Carvalho answered: “I remember then secretary Gurbux Singh bringing up this point of giving memberships to former India players. But it was shot down by a majority of those members in the committee, who know nothing about the game. They claimed the membership is full and that there were no vacancies then. But now how come they only have opened up 10 to 12 memberships? The Nanjappa issue proves this MHA committee’s ignorance of Mumbai hockey. Nanjappa has been running a club Coorg XI for many years and deserved membership on that basis.”

Finally, Rathore cited an example of how the MHA have encouraged the game. “We reduced the cost of renting the turf to institutions from Rs 3000 (during the previous committee’s term) to Rs 2100 now. Is this not promoting hockey,” Rathore asked.

To this, Carvalho said that the current committee was merely reaping the benefits of the work done by its predecessors. “We brought in Rs 28 lakh through the multi-million dollar World Series Hockey. During our term, MHA also showed an audited profit statement of Rs 33 lakh. So, bringing down the turf’s renting cost is no big deal,” Carvalho signed off. ¬†

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