Former Odia Olympians sidelined in HIL

Bhubaneswar: Representing the country in hockey tournaments like Olympics, Asia Cup, Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, Champions Trophy not only command respect for being great ambassadors, but also being fountainhead of expertise and experience which will foster improvements and development of the sport. However, such sportsmen of our State allege that they are being grossly sidelined in the Hockey India League (HIL) a tournament which aims to popularize Hockey in the country.

Such is the behaviour meted out to our former hockey players that they are not being offered tickets or seats to watch the tournaments held in Bhubaneswar. Rather than using those for developing our own franchise – Kalinga Lancers – the players not even allowed watching the matches in their own State.

Olympian Lazarus Barla, William Khalko and former captain of the Indian Hockey team Prabodh Tirkey have levelled such allegations and along with the office bearers of the Hockey Gangpur Association submitted a memorandum to the executive director of Odisha Sports Development and Promotion Company (OSDPC), which jointly owns Kalinga Lancers.

“It feels like there is no contribution from the hockey players of the State in the HIL. The fact is that we are losing respect by complaining about it. It feels like as if we are begging for respect and it hurts,” said Lazarus.

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“It is very unfortunate that we have to get tickets and then watch the matches because we have done so much for Odisha and the country as well. Even I was also associated with Kalinga Lancers. At least we should be given passes,” said Prabodh.

Meanwhile, executive director of OSDPC, Sushant Das had assured that steps will be taken to not repeat such callous attitude towards former players.

“We had made provisions to make calls to all the players personally give them tickets. Some Olympians have collected tickets from us. We will take steps to ensure that they get tickets and car passes going forward,” said Das.

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