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Bengal Hockey and Gurbux's central role therein (2/27/2009)
--K.. Arumugam
Editorial: Most embarrassing moments in my hockey writing career has been an occupational hazard -- listening to the explanations most of our great former players’ dish out day in and day out.

On the occasion of JB Roy’s show of strength in New Delhi on Tuesday, the agony repeated with all its ferocity.

Replying to a pointed query why Bengal has not produced a single international player in the last two decades, Bengal Hockey Association Secretary Gurbux Singh (1964 Olympic Gold Medallist) gave a spirited reply.

It was on these lines:

“How can we produce a player when we did not have a single astro turf? I met three Defence Ministers, blah blah in the last ten years, still we could not get the ground. Now only the Sports Authority of India is laying a turf and the ground of course is far away from the city.

To bolster the ‘sad plight’ of Bengal, he said he has sent recently his Under 14 team to Lucknow ten days before the tournament ‘so that they boys can get the feel of turf’.

How can a state that produced 16 Olympic gold medalists (some horrible stat he quoted) not have a single turf?

He then brought the audience to an emotional level – “I want to cry here itself”.

Thankfully, he did not. Perhaps he thought he will be no match to Harendra!

So, about a 100-strong media was enlightened on Tuesday as to why Bengal hasn't shone on the turf in the last so many decades.

Now the brasstacks. How many turfs Chhatisgarh had when it produced a Mrinal Dubey for the present Junior India team?

How many turfs Western Uttar Pradesh (nowadays Utarkhand) had when it produced the likes of Sanjay Bists?

How many turfs Chennai city had when it produced a midfield marvel in Md. Riaz in the early 90s? (Chennai had its first turf only in 1995).

How many turfs Coorg region in Karnataka had when it churned out half a dozen players for the national team since the late 80s.

Dear Mr. Gurbux, all these regions had no turf at all, when players kept coming. Turf is an essential part of hockey development, no doubt on that score, but just blaming everything on it is blatantly wrong.

Of course what a former Olympian believes need not be the truth. Every sensible journalist, every hockey lover, every hockey promoter in India understands this.

Now see the other side.

Gujarat had a turf for more than two decades. Delhi had so many but the city as such produced hardly any player, all those represent the City are imports. Hyderabad has three turfs, we are yet to get a single player of worth.

I can go on cite n-number of instances to prove turf and hockey developments are independent of each other – though both are crucial for elite talent grooming. Countries like Argentina became world champions in both men and women categories just by having three turfs in the whole country!

Hockey is not there in Bengal, because there is no grass root development.

Now see the another reality that stares us at out face.

JB Roy, who is president of the Bengal Hockey Association (BHA) of which Gurbux is the secretary over a decade, earmarked about Rs.40 lakh for the state unit. It is fairly a good amount for any bhuka nanka State Hockey Associations of which BHA is no different.

Had Gurbux known how to develop hockey and if he had any sympathy for hockey which keeps him in public life even today, what should have he done with the JB Roy’s booty?

He should have started hockey in schools and college, at least one school and one college in each district of the state? Did he do that? Or, anything that can yield results?

What he did was this. He called all the former Olympians, all his friends, and organized a grand walk on the Kolkata streets. Gave interviews to papers, bytes to television, even wrote a column on how Bengal had a glorious past and bullshit like that. Has any public recognized who were walking? Leslie (85), Dutt (84) are great, they needed to be glorified, but do the young generation knows them, can they be role model to schools kids today so that they will take up hockey on seeing them on the streets?

He wasted money on self-glory which is obsession of every former Olympian.

Why do you celebrate Centenary of an Association that has not produced a single player in the last 30 years or so!

In fact, Gurbux should have hung his head in shame that his State Association’s dismal record of last three decades, which is so long and so barren.

Gurbux should have taken Gill and Co, and the Kolkata Based LSM into task when they scrapped Bengal Tigers from the PHL? Did he? Everything is ok as long as I am in your good books. This cannot take hockey to any height Mr. Gurbux.

All Gurbux did as Secretary of the Bengal Hockey Association was getting a post of Selector for KPS Gill, which climaxed when he flew to Germany to select a Jothikumaran’s choice, a novice,.for the Athens Olympics!

Gurbux is a gold medalist because the IHF selectors in the 60s and 70s were not the likes of Gurbux!!! They went to the Nationals, watched the players and then selected, not on the white paper which Jothikumaran threw at any former Olympian’s face, who were ready to touch his feet.

Gurbux’s career highlight will be how he bent backwards to hold the KPS Gill’s election in Kolkata four summers ago.

Believe me, he was willing to participate in the AGM called by the ‘disgraced’ KPS Gill last year. Likes of Gurbux will remain a slave, and will do everything necessary to keep hockey a slave of selfishness, self-glory and ignorance.

How to select a press conference in which a former Olympians won’t reason hockey?

It is really an occupational hazard of serious genre.

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bengal hockey
by Kamlesh Jain on 2/27/2009 10:59:10 PM
Like many other states hockey is also not doing well in bengal. Am from Kharagpur, i don't see any hockey here. i wish hockey comes back. I know this city used to have good hockey teams, now nothing. BHA should not restrict themselves to kolkata alone. they should spread up, and go to rural areas. u r correct, we should forget show offs, instead concentrate on urgent matters.
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bengal hockey
by Kamlesh Jain on 2/27/2009 10:57:42 PM
Like many other states hockey is also not doing well in bengal. Am from Kharagpur, i don't see any hockey here. i wish hockey comes back. I know this city used to have good hockey teams, now nothing. BHA should not restrict themselves to kolkata alone. they should spread up, and go to rural areas. u r correct, we should forget show offs, instead concentrate on urgent matters.
Reply