Hockey has lost its charm over the years, says 1956, 1960 Olympic hero Raghbir Singh Bhola

RS BholaNew Delhi: Raghbir Singh Bhola belongs to an era when India enjoyed an unbridled hegemony in hockey. He was part of India’s gold medal winning team in 1956 Olympics and silver medal winning team in 1960 Olympics. So when he has an opinion about the game, it does carries weight.

“The lack of resources, loss of interest among parents in motivating their children and training facilities at the grass-root level are the main reasons why hockey has lost its charm over the years,” says the veteran, who feels the state of hockey in India has deteriorated over the years.

Talking to Indian Sports News on the inauguration of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Hockey Tournament, he said, “The reason for this is that no one is accountable for the loss we face at International level. The only way to improve the state of hockey is that there should be a threat perception for the players that if you will not perform, you will be held accountable and will have to face the consequences.”

“Periodic monitoring of the players about their performances, fitness, and the areas which need to be improved should be done to ensure the team’s better performance. We compete at the international level to compete and there can be no excuse for not winning the match. We can’t be complacent by winning a tournament or two,” he said.

According to him India did not perform well at Rio Olympics. “If we closely analyse the matches we can see India did not play with fill zeal. The defence of Indian players were weak and even in the attacking mode they lost the ball possession near the point where we could have scored the goal,” he said.

Critical of the present day players, Bhola said international tours should not to be misunderstood with international outing for the players and the Federation members. “If some players loose the ball at some point, it must be analysed carefully and the players should be reprimanded and advised for the same,” he said.

Speaking on the issues how Indian players can match the standards of European players, he said “There is this German player who has been scoring in a prolific manner in the last few years. India should send their teams to study his playing pattern so to inculcate it in our game and play better.”

“There are no shortcuts to improve the standard of our game. But the government should provide facilities and train people at the grass-root level. A National Sports Academy should be established where the players would be chosen at young age and given government job so that don’t have any worries about their future. At the same time they should be given rigorous training to compete at the best level,” he said.

When asked about his contribution to the game after retiring from it, he said, “I have written several letters to the government, have met Sports Authority of India officials and suggested the ways to improve our national game, but all in vain.”