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Ballal: We won amidst hostile crowd, You can do it (2/21/2010)
--B. David
Ballal: We won amidst hostile crowd, You can do it

Ashish Ballal: The hopes and dreams of 1.2 billion Indians will rest in your hearts and souls. All our wishes and prayers are with the entire team and the coaching staff. Ultimately, it is you the players who have to perform in the field. Have belief in yourselves, things will happen. You have to have faith and confidence in your talent, skill and the hardwork you put in all these months and years.


We are at a stage where this World Cup mean everything to every hockey player. It is going to be a case of ‘perform or perish’. Your performance will determine the state of hockey in India for years to come. So it means a lot for every hockey player. The International Hockey Federation threatened to withdraw the tournament and blackmailed to stop the event in India. But now everything is past us, we are at the verge of hosting the event in India again after 28 years.

Recently MP Ganesh rightly put it ``The game is more important than any player or organisation. Playing in the right spirit is more important than winning or losing.''

So, it is hockey we workship and everything else takes a back seat. It is important for every player to raise above all these distractions, concentrate on the task at hand and prove the critics wrong. It is in your hands and if you perform upto your potential there is nothing that can stop you. You boys have the talent and skills and you can do it.

I will end with a small personal experience: In the 1990 Lahore World Cup, the Indian team travelled to the neighbouring country and had to undergo a lot of harassment and mental torture everywhere because of tight security checks. We were at the peak of the cold war. India, Pakistan relations were in a very bad state and tensions were high due to the Kashmir problem.

That particular match when we entered the ground we were completely shocked by the hostile crowd. The stadium was jam packed. About 60 to 70 thousand people were shouting hoarse. Some slogans I still remember: ``Hum lekhay rahengha Azadi; Hum lekhay Rahengha Kashmiri''. The crowd indulged in stone-throwing.... to cut the story short, I should say that it was a very hostile crowd and the environment was absolutely tense and intimidating. That kind of situation prevents anyone from giving their best. But the Indian team stood solid as one family. United and detemined. We did not talk, fear gripped us. But we performed. We played like men possessed and everyone gave his best. And in the end, the crowd became silent. WE WON THE MATCH. It was a team show.

So it is all in your hands. Go out play you best and the rest will be taken care. Go India Go!!!


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