Indian hockey’s new masters groping in the dark

By Avishek Roy, IANS,

New Delhi : A month and a half after the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) dissolved the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and appointed an ad hoc committee to run the sport, the committee members are still struggling to even get control of the office and run day-to-day affairs.

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The ad hoc committee, headed by IOA President Suresh Kalmadi, does not have access to any of the accounts or other documents of the previous K.P.S. Gill regime, say members of the committee.

The new dispensation has been facing problems right from the day it superseded the IHF. The official papers, books and, more importantly, the correspondence with international bodies, have not been handed over by the previous office bearers, the members said.

Sacked Gill has lodged a case against his removal in the Delhi High Court and the matter being sub judice, the IOA is pleading helplessness in getting hold of the office files.

The dissolved IHF has shifted its office out of its headquarters at the National Stadium here – which is being renovated for the 2010 Commonwealth Games – and is operating from a rented flat in New Delhi’s West Patel Nagar.

India’s chief selector under the new dispensation, Aslam Sher Khan, says the ad hoc committee’s attempts to lay its hands on the documents have met with stiff resistance from IHF office secretary Narayanan who continues to report to Gill.

Khan told IANS that Narayanan was spoken to and a letter asking him to hand over all files and accounts books was also sent to him, but he had been resisting all attempts by the new committee members to get to the documents.

Narayanan, however, insists that he has been performing his duties and that he has not received any letter from the ad hoc committee.

“I have not received any official letter from anyone in the ad hoc committee; you better ask IOA about it,” Narayanan told IANS.

A senior IOA official, who is a member of the ad hoc committee, says some solution will soon have to be found to end the stalemate, failing which drastic steps will have to be taken.

“As of now we have asked Gill to hand over the papers and if he doesn’t do it we may even have to think of sealing the office,” said the official on condition of anonymity.

The ad hoc committee was caught unawares when Gill sent a letter to the organisers of the four-nation tournament in Poland, saying that India’s junior team would not participate in the event. The tournament was a part of the preparation for the Junior Asia Cup.

By the time the ad hoc committee came to know of the letter, it was too late as the organisers had already filled India’s slot with another team.

“We saw Gill’s letter and immediately got in touch with the organisers to tell them about the change of guard at the IHF, but by then another team had been drafted,” said Aslam Sher Khan.

He also charged that Narayanan called the Asian Hockey Federation to say that the IHF could not host the Junior Asia Cup in Hyderabad next month.

Just after taking over the reins, the ad hoc committee received a jolt when India coach Joaquim Carvalho returned home with three senior players, including the captain-designate Tushar Khandekar, from Australia, defying the ad hoc committee’s instruction that they should proceed to Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament.

Carvalho, a Gill appointee, has said that he had informed IHF about his unavailability for the Azlan Shah tournament.

“Gill is creating all sorts of problems for us and the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is now aware of the happenings. The FIH has informed all its affiliated units about the supersession of the Gill regime and the appointment of an ad hoc committee,” Khan said.

A Gill aide, not wanting to be named, says the ad hoc committee should remember the reported remark of IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh in the aftermath of India’s failure to qualify for the Beijing Olympics that “autonomy does not mean bad governance. The ad hoc committee is only undoing the good work of Gill’s IHF.”

The aide also pointed out that the Indian team that did so well at the Azlan Shah tournament had been trained by the old IHF, not by the ad hoc committee.