Doing it for the passion of the game

India's Barmy Army… the group has an unflinching loyalty towards Indian hockey players.-S. SUBRAMANIUM

A group of UK-based fans has been following the Indian hockey team to all possible tournaments over the years.

Indian hockey's ‘Barmy Army' was back at the National Stadium in Delhi to watch the team play in the Olympic qualifier. The group of UK-based fans has been following the Indian team to every venue in all possible tournaments over the years. “We do it for the passion of the game. We work and raise money to be at all venues where India plays,” said Pinder Sagoo, one of the members of the group that was in Delhi for the qualifier.

“We have been to Olympics, World Cups, Asian Games, Champions Trophy, Champions Challenge.... almost everywhere,” he added.

The group's unflinching loyalty towards the Indian team does not go unnoticed. “Wherever we go, we find them. They are die-hard fans of players like Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh. It is good to see such support for hockey,” said Clarence Lobo, one of the assistant coaches of the side.

That's the spirit

The French hockey team was shocked to receive the news of Christophe Genestet's death. Father of Martin, Tom and Hugo — who had played in the Olympic qualifier — Christophe was a great servant of French hockey, in particular St. Germain-en-Laye Hockey Club.

Despite the tragedy, the three brothers decided to play in their team's crucial match against Canada and helped France reach the final. “It was a complicated situation. But all the players wanted to play for the Genestet brothers,” said France's coach Frederic Soyez.

In memory of Christophe, the players, officials, volunteers and spectators at the stadium showed their appreciation by a period of applause.

Emotional moment

Canada's bronze medal-winning moment after a 4-3 victory against Poland was filled with emotions. Uncertain about their future, the oldest player of the tournament, Rob Short, 39, and his close friend and captain, Ken Pereira, 38, exchanged warm hugs with moist eyes.

They were in no mood to call it quits. “I want to continue playing for Canada. The federation might want to give a different direction to the team and it is up to them, but me and Rob will keep playing,” said Pereira, who scored two goals for his team in the match.

“I know the federation perhaps wants to go with the youngsters considering the future of Canadian hockey and so it is a very emotional moment for us. In the last 22 years of my career, I have never cried so much. I love the game and if I can't be back as a player, I hope to be back as a coach of the national team,” said Short.

Y. B. Sarangi