With Hockey India’s one State-one association policy coming into effect from July 1, several Olympians and former players from Mumbai have written to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju and the IOA seeking continuation of a separate identity.
Maharashtra had three associations — Maharashtra (based in Pune), and Mumbai and Vidarbha as associate units. Under the new rule, Hockey Maharashtra will be the sole HI-affiliated unit and can field a team at the National championships.
“As a result of the new ruling, only one team will be sent from the State under the banner of Maharashtra XI. Many business houses and PSUs in the city have provided employment to hockey players and maintain their own teams, including Western Railway, Navy, Central Bank, Mumbai Customs & Excise, Mumbai Port Trust. The opportunity for employment has shaped a robust process of talent identification and grooming from schools and colleges to a three-division club level participation.
“In the present situation, there will be a substantial reduction in the number of players from Mumbai and these organisations would be reluctant to recruit players and may not want to maintain teams. This would have a cascading effect on the entire chain,” read the letter written by M.M. Somaya and signed by several players, including Dhanraj Pillay, Mervyn Fernandes, Viren Rasquinha and Joaquim Carvalho.
Ruing that the Mumbai hockey officials had not been too willing to pursue a legal course, fearing repercussions from HI – Vidarbha has challenged the decision with a final disposal scheduled for July 31 — the players referred to the BCCI’s “judicious implementation” of the rule to accommodate major centres like Mumbai, Saurashtra and Baroda as independent members, and sought full membership of HI.
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