Gill vows to improve standard of hockey in India

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New Delhi, May 20 (UNI) Stating that hockey will regain its stature as the top sport in India, Sports Minister M S Gill today said he will focus on improving the state of the national game in the country.

Taliking to mediapersons here Gill said , ''I had told earlier that hockey will remain the priority game for the country. It will remain India's number one game and it's my duty to support the national game.'' ''There is no lack of talent in India. It is only a matter of developing and utilising the talent,'' he added.

The Minister was here to meet the members of the Indian team that reached the final of the Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Malaysia after a gap of 12 years.

Apart from Gill, drag flicker Sandeep Singh, Gurwinder Singh Chandi, Innocent Kullu, Mandip Antil, Diwakar Ram, coach A K Bansal and manager Pargat Singh were also present on the occasion.

Gill admitted that the number of astro-turfs in the country is totally insufficient and there was a crying need to do more in that quarter.

''Hockey is played on astro-turf, we need to lay as many astro-turfs as possible. We need to install double the number of astro-turfs than there are at present,'' he said.

''The ad-hoc committee which was appointed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), will look into the matter. I believe they will manage it properly.'' He expressed confidence that the selection committee will fulfill its duties in an impartial manner now that former IHF chief KPS Gill and ex-secretary K Jothikumaran are out of the picture.

''I am confident that the selection committee will do the job to the best of their ability to give the best side without discriminating among players,'' Gill asserted.

Stating that hockey is India's ''spiritual game'' Gill rekindled memories of the golden days of Indian hockey.

''It's India's spiritual game. I still remember the days when people like Ajit Pal Singh and Mohammed Shahid used to play,'' he remised.

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