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Pakistan's Zeeshan Ashraf slams Hockey India's lengthy camp

Pakistan's Guangzhou Asian Games-winning skipper Ashraf is happy for Indian players that World Series Hockey is postponed, but slams month-long national camp nevertheless

Pakistan's Guangzhou Asian Games-winning captain Zeeshan Ashraf yesterday said that though it was good for the Indian players that the World Series Hockey was postponed, he found no logic in Hockey India holding a month-long national camp though.


Pakistan captain Zeeshan Ashraf during the FIH World Cup in New Delhi
last year. Pic/AFP


The inaugural franchise-based multi-million dollar WSH promoted by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was to be held from December 17 to January 22. However, Hockey India's  (HI) insistence that the national players report to a camp in Bangalore beginning on December 11 and stretching right up to the third week of January to prepare for the Olympic Qualifiers (Feb 16-25), has led to a change in WSH's dates to February 29-April 1.

"I'm happy for the Indian players that WSH has been postponed. Now all of them can be a part of WSH after the qualifiers, but I cannot comprehend the need for such a long national camp � for over a month," said Zeeshan, who arrived in Bangalore a couple of days ago and will represent the city's franchise in WSH.

"Around the world we have seen the Europeans, Australians having shorter camps and yet running away with titles. It's only in India and Pakistan that we tend to have long camps. A camp should not be for more than 10-15 days," added the sturdy defender, who also led Pakistan in the 2010 FIH World Cup and Commonwealth Games in Delhi last year.

Indian hockey is currently reeling under a power struggle between the erstwhile Indian IHF and HI. While the IHF claim that HI secretary Narinder Batra deliberately pre-poned the camp, originally scheduled for January 24, to disrupt WSH, Batra maintains that the camp dates were fixed long back Ashraf, a double Olympian and two-time World Cupper refused to comment on the controversies marring Indian hockey, but advocated the significance of a players' rights nevertheless.

"I don't understand the politics behind the sport (in India). But I think whatever happens, the game and its players should not suffer. I believe that if a player wants to ply his trade, he should have the right to do so
anywhere, anytime. Players are the ambassadors of the game and wherever they play, they are simply promoting the game and doing no harm," Ashraf signed off.

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