‘Would love to have Pak players, but not with bad behaviour’
New Delhi: Still awaiting an apology from Pakistan over its players’ behaviour in last year’s Champions Trophy hockey tournament, Hockey India president Narendra Batra today said he would love to have players from the neighbouring country in the HIL but not with the kind of conduct they displayed.
Two players were handed a one-game ban and reprimanded by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) after the Pakistan team went on a rampage post their semi-final win against India in Bhubaneswar in December last year. Showing obscene gestures to the crowd, some players also took off their shirts in celebration. Batra insists that India have received no act of regret from Pakistan for the unfortunate incident.
“I would love to have Pakistan players but not with the kind of behaviour they displayed in the Champions Trophy. And they have shown no regret of that incident in writing or otherwise. I don’t want to politicise the issue but that kind of behaviour was unacceptable. Least we need an apology from them,” Batra said.
Nine Pakistani players were part of the first edition of Hockey India League (HIL) in 2013 but had to leave the country before the start of the tournament following protests from a few political organisations. Since then no Pakistan player has been included in the three HIL editions so far.
India though have benefited from the mega-event with quite a few international players rubbing shoulders with the national youngsters. And Batra is boastful of the HIL having a positive impact on Indian hockey.
“Our aim at HIL is to form a pool of players for the future. We already have eight players from HIL in the national side. HIL has created heroes and a space for itself in the big world of cricket.
“We have won the Asian Games gold after 16 years and were able to get the better of Pakistan in an Asian Games final after 48 years since 1966. So the national sport has certainly improved in the last four or five years and HIL is one of the reasons behind it,” said the HI president.
Batra also informed that the senior and junior hockey set-up is on the verge of getting a boost by addition of more coaching staff.
“The senior team will have a new analytical coach by November 1. The junior team will be getting a scientific advisor in a month’s time. The women’s senior and junior team will also be getting an analytical coach and a scientific advisor respectively. So we are in the process of equipping our players with the best support staff for a bright future of the national game,” Batra said.