Current India player Nilakanta Sharma has always been vocal about his views on all things related to the sport.
The 28-year-old, who was part of the Indian men’s team that won the gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, is upset with the infighting between hockey officials in his home state, Manipur, that has resulted in players having to fend for themselves for the Senior men’s National championship here.
Manipur, however, has put everything behind it and is on course to reach the quarterfinals. With two wins from two matches, Manipur will clash with Bengal in its last group match.
Nilakanta, a veteran of 114 international caps, said: “We’ve come here with our (players) contributions and donations from a few benevolent sponsors. We have booked the flight tickets and taken care of our accommodation. The association has not done much—literally nothing. We are struggling. Things are very difficult,” he told Sportstar.
Nilakanta said the team is very young, with half of them being in their early 20s, and the squad has been doing well thanks to the good team spirit. “Our team is mostly consisting of juniors. They depend on us (senior players like myself, Chinglensana Singh, Thokchom Singh) for guidance.”
According to Nilakanta, the Manipur team was formed hardly 10 days before the Nationals. “We had trials and quickly formed the team. I can’t say more,” he said.
He was of the opinion that the hockey crisis in Manipur is not likely to be resolved anytime soon. “It will take time, but we are focused on reaching the quarterfinals,” said Nilakanta, who was part of the Indian team that won a historic bronze in the Tokyo Olympics.
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