April 14, 2009 7:24:31 pm
It’s that time of the year again. Between the months of April and June,Malaysia hosts the Sultan Azlan Shah hockey tournament,and for an invitational event,it attracts most of the best teams in the world,ensuring competitive matches and good preparation for the year ahead. The Indian team religiously participates in the tournament — sometimes it does well,often it doesn’t. But this year,after a 14-year gap,under a stop-gap coach and an ad-hoc hockey federation,a bunch of alleged ‘also rans’ have returned with the elusive trophy.
There is still a long way to go before India are back to being serious contenders in world hockey,but it would be tough to remember when the Indian team last went nine games without a loss — overall,they have lost just two of their 16 games this year.
How much does this recent track record change things? It won’t make overnight stars of this bunch of stick-wielders,and it won’t suddenly make the country think,dream and wholeheartedly follow the fortunes of the national team. But it could mean that,at last,the players can start hoping to play for more than just “pride” and “the love of the game”,which they have been doing for too many years now.
Maybe,just maybe,this win will ensure that when the hockey team next goes out to play (the Asia Cup in May),their results — both wins and defeats — will not get lost in a surfeit of IPL excitement.
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