India will win gold in 2028 LA Olympics if not Paris next year, says HI secy general

Chennai, Aug 5 (PTI) Hockey India (HI) secretary general Bhola Nath Singh on Saturday claimed that India will definitely win gold at the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics if they miss out on the yellow metal in Paris next year.

He said the current HI brass under former India captain Dilip Tirkey is leaving no stone unturned to take Indian hockey to the top again.

“I have big plans for hockey and you will see some new things being introduced. We will try our best to change HI during this time,” Bhola Nath told PTI.

“I want to assure you that if not the Paris Olympics, India will surely win a gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympics. If they don’t, you can come back to me.” To help Indian hockey recapture its past glory, Bhola Nath said HI is working on creating a bigger talent pool.

He said plans are in place to give the junior teams the best facilities as the senior side, coupled with enough international exposure, which would again make India a major hockey powerhouse.

“As far as the junior teams are concerned across genders, they will get all the facilities and support that are provided to the senior team, including an international coach. And I want to implement it within the next two months.

“We also have some grassroots programmes for our junior teams. We have their zonal tournaments, and many more such junior tournaments are expected to start. We will also have a junior national tournament, and the players selected there will get proper training as the senior team,” he added.

The HI official said the junior sides will get to play more international tournaments.

“So far, there were only nationals for the U-17 and U-18 sides. But now, they will also have international tournaments against top junior sides in the world. The short-listed kids at the junior level will be selected for a national camp from August 20 in Rourkela,” Bhola Nath said.

Bhola Nath said that having been a player and a coach himself, it is his duty to fulfil the needs of players as an administrator.

On being asked how the current HI brass had been promoting the game across the country, he said, “For the first time, every state has been given ample hockey equipment and kits. Most of the junior players come from poor families, whose parents cannot afford equipment. We at HI are keeping a watch that state associations distribute the equipment properly.” He also said that besides the FIH Pro League, the Indian team will get a lot of international exposure in the run-up to the Paris Olympics.

“We have the Pro League in Bhubaneswar, where some five-six top teams will come, which will be good preparation for the Olympics. Also, we will plan more international outings during this phase, which will aid the team before it heads to Paris,” Bhola Nath said.

HI is planning to revive the Hockey India League and Bhola Nath said the competition would be expanded to eight teams, while a female version will also be introduced.

“HIL will have eight teams. The groundwork for its revival is more or less complete, and you will see it soon.

“Also, besides the men’s HIL, we will also have the women’s HIL. The women’s HIL will start with four teams, but we will expand it to six if it becomes successful.” He stated that talks are on with the “existing franchises” (those who owned teams before HIL was discontinued) and confirmed that a team from Odisha is almost certain to come in.

“We have handed letters to the existing HIL franchises. We have asked them if they want to stay or not. It’s a technical matter. A team from Odisha is most likely to come in. If the other franchises want to continue, we are more than happy.” With Chennai emerging as the new hockey hub — and possibly having an HIL team soon –, Bhola Nath was asked as to which other Indian city could be promoted for the sport in coming years.

“Odisha remains our biggest hockey hub right now. Even Chennai is now a hub. We will also see Jharkhand turn into a hub in some time. Similarly, we will go to those Indian states where hockey is relevant and turn it into a hub. There is a new turf being laid in Bengal. There are some great hockey talents in Kolkata. So, watch out for it,” he said.

Source: PTI News


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