Hockey federation failed to promote the game: Pillai

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{image-dhanraj pillai_02032008.jpg www.oneindia.com}Dubai, Mar 2: Former India captain and Olympian Dhanraj Pillai has slammed the Hockey Federation of India for not promoting the game and lamented that cricket gets all the backing at the expense of other sports in India.

''Everything is going for cricket and nothing for hockey or any other sport in India. Everyone concentrates only on promoting cricket. Mileage, publicity, sponsorship, name it and everything goes towards cricket, leaving barely half a per cent for other sports,'' he told a Dubai daily.
''Even 'Chak de India,' the song that should have popularised hockey is sung when cricket teams do well,'' he added.

While referring to the amount of money being generated by the Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) for the Indian Premier League (IPL), Pillai said, ''Although I do feel proud as a sportsman that cricketers have benefited, the government should take care of other sports and ensure that they too get support.'' Pillai who was here to play in a private tournament, said hockey which won several golds for India in the Olympics has been totally neglected.

''While cricketers these days get match fees, when we represent our country we get a mere 30 dollar as expenses. Cricketers stay in five-star hotels, while hockey, football players as well as other athletes are put up in the stadium itself.

''Sports is a career today and if the game is not made attractive enough no one will take it up,'' he told the Gulf News.

''The hockey federation lacks marketing skills, so much so that they don't even have a public relations manager. No one will come to support hockey unless the federation approaches them,'' he said.

According to him, it was the BCCI that approached industrialists like Mukesh Ambani, Vijay Mallya and Bollywood stars like Preity Zinta and Shah Rukh Khan to invest in cricket.

''No one will invest money in a sport unless they are benefited in some way. The BCCI showed them how they can be benefited and made them invest in cricket,'' he said.

''Chak de India, the popular Bollywood flick based on the game of hockey, went on to benefit all other sports except hockey.

''The Indian Hockey Federation did nothing to use this film to popularise the game,'' he pointed out.

''Now when the Indian cricket team does well, people sing the Chak de India song. Our federation did nothing to use this inspiring popular song for the game's benefit,'' he said.

Pillai believes that hockey should be made more spectator - friendly.

''The federation should have introduced floodlight stadiums for hockey so that people are able to watch the game after they are back from work.

''Moreover, there are only about 30 astroturf grounds throughout India with most of them not in a playable condition,'' he added.

UNI

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