Save Mumbai hockey! Former players urge sports ministry

Updated: Jul 03, 2020, 07:47 IST | Ashwin Ferro | Mumbai

The Vidarbha Hockey Association also lost its association membership as did a few other hockey bodies across the country

Mumbai Hockey Association's office in Churchgate. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Mumbai Hockey Association's office in Churchgate. Pic/Bipin Kokate

A day after mid-day reported that the Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd (MHAL) would not be contesting Hockey India's (HI) one-state-one-unit rule that came into effect on July 1, barring Mumbai teams from participating in Nationals, the city's hockey stars have united to fight for the cause.

In January, HI cancelled MHAL's associate membership and recognised Hockey Maharashtra as the state's sole hockey representative as per the Lodha Panel recommendations, seeking the appointment of one sports unit per state for better administration. The Vidarbha Hockey Association also lost its association membership as did a few other hockey bodies across the country.

On Wednesday, 1980 Moscow Olympics gold medal-winner MM Somaya had told mid-day that a representation had to be made to the Indian Olympic Association, requesting them "not to weaken the hockey system in Mumbai as that will hurt the national hockey scenario."

Now, in a detailed letter initiated by Somaya, and a prominent bunch of Mumbai-based former players, have slammed MHAL officials, claiming "they [MHAL] have chosen the easy way out by not pursuing the matter legally for fear of alienation by HI," and requested the sports ministry, Indian Olympic Association and Hockey India to "save Mumbai hockey and ensure that the city continues to be a nerve centre for the game in India as Mumbai has been one of the founder members of the original governing body Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and to be excluded from membership despite contributing significantly for so many decades would be grossly unfair."

The letter refers to a Supreme Court ruling (August 9, 2018) applied to cricket, where full membership status was accorded to the Mumbai and Vidarbha Cricket Associations besides Saurashtra and Baroda in Gujarat. "States like Maharashtra and Gujarat are allowed to field more than one team in the Ranji Trophy. Consequently, Vidarbha and Saurashtra have won the Ranji Trophy in recent years.

This Supreme Court judgement delivered for cricket could be made applicable for hockey," said the letter signed by Dhanraj Pillay, Joaquim Carvalho, Mervyn Fernandis, Marcellus Gomes, Balbir Singh Grewal, Gurubax Singh Grewal, Viren Rasquinha, Iqbaljit Singh, Eliza Nelson, Selma D'Silva and Margaret Toscano.

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