Olympian Selma D’Silva, Former captain Viren Rasquinha and MHAL chief Mangha Singh Bakshi
Less than 48 hours after mid-day reported that the Mumbai Schools Sports Association (MSSA) has asked young players to pay to Rs 3,000 each to represent the MSSA Academy in the Hockey India Men's Sub-Junior and Junior Academy National Championships (Bhopal, October 4 onwards), the city's hockey fraternity is furious.
Former India captain Viren Rasquinha took to social media to vent his ire. "Most kids, who play hockey, cannot afford to pay. MSSA should instead be helping them with sticks and shoes. Come on, MSSA. Get your act together. If you cannot get sponsors then resign. Hockey India should not give affiliation to entities that can't run themselves. I don't know any of these kids, but if any kid cannot participate because they cannot afford to pay, please do let me know. I will pay or raise money, but MSSA must be accountable for this mess. Terrible organisation of such an important institution of grassroot sport," Rasquinha wrote to his 176,000 Twitter followers.
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Olympian Selma D'Silva is upset too. "I'm shocked that MSSA are charging hockey players at the grassroot level. If this continues, no parent will want their kids to play hockey. Hockey India should ensure that participating teams are provided all the necessary facilities and basic accommodation. I have played Nationals and major tournaments, but we managed with whatever accommodation was provided by the hosts. The All India Women's Hockey Association would instruct all the host states/cities to make available all the facilities to the players," said Selma.
Mangha Singh Bakshi, President of the Mumbai Hockey Association Limited (MHAL), said he feels sorry for the players. "It's extremely sad and wrong to make the kids pay. MHAL has never charged money from any player, junior or senior, to participate in the Nationals or any major tournament in the country. I'm surprised MSSA has decided to do this. It's going to create a very negative picture in the minds of hockey lovers. Youngsters will not like to play this sport if they have to pay,"
Former MSSA General Secretary Shaji Kuttiani pointed out that due to the pandemic many people have lost their jobs so this contribution will be tough on parents. "It's wrong for MSSA to ask the kids to pay to represent the association. Why can't MSSA utilise their own funds? If the team win laurels, won't MSSA take all the credit for it," asked Kuttiani.
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