Members of the U-19 Bengal Hockey team have reportedly shaved their heads after reportedly being on the receiving end of a scolding from their coach for their performance in a match. Coach Anand Kumar had reportedly told the players at half time of their match against Namdhari XI that he would have their heads tonsured if they lost.
The team went on to lose the match 5-1 and the coach said that they were losing by “three or four goals at halftime ” according to a report in the Times of India. After returning to Kolkata, the entire squad of 18, barring two players, shaved their heads. While some players say that they did so out of respect and disappointment, others said that they were forced to do so.
One of the players who did not shave his head has been quoted as saying that the coach called him “indisciplined” for refusing to do so. He also said that Kumar had suggested the same after they had won their first match against Gujarat because he felt they “didn’t play well.”
Kumar, however, denies forcing the players into committing the act. “We were losing by three or four goals at halftime against Namdhari XI. I scolded the boys and, in anger, said I will have their heads tonsured,” Kumar said, clarifying, “It was said in frustration. When I came to know some of the players have shaved their heads two days after coming back, I was surprised. I asked them and they said they did it out of repentance (for playing poorly in that match), since I had mentioned it to them.”
The Bengal Hockey Association will form a three-member committee to look into the matter, according to a PTI report. “The committee will be formed by tonight and whoever is responsible will be taken to task,” BHA secretary Swapan Banerjee is quoted as saying. SAI Director Manmeet Singh Goindi said he will speak to the players and then take necessary action. I will speak to the players once they are back from school. Necessary steps will be taken,” said Goindi.