Fighting for honour

’I am elated that I was named as one of the members of the FIH All-Star women’s squad. It is a great feeling to be recognised in such a way,’ says Surinder Kaur (in pic, left, with Subhadra Pradhan).-R. V. MOORTHY ’I am elated that I was named as one of the members of the FIH All-Star women’s squad. It is a great feeling to be recognised in such a way,’ says Surinder Kaur (in pic, left, with Subhadra Pradhan).

Surinder Kaur is happy that the issue of incentives has been sorted out with the authorities. She and her team-mates are now looking to the challenges ahead. “The team is fully focused on the World Cup to be held in Argentina in August,” she says in a chat with V. V. Subrahmanyam.

Indian women’s hockey scored a victory of sorts the other day when, through a ‘silent’ protest at the National camp in Bhopal, it succeeded in getting its incentives that were long overdue. Apparently inspired by the response that the men’s hockey players received following their protest, the women, led by the Indian captain, Surinder Kaur, decided enough was enough and took on the authorities. And in the end, all of them were very pleased with the response of the hockey authorities.

According to Surinder Kaur, the players had to fight not just for money but for their honour. They wanted to be treated on a par with the men. “We were not scared of engaging ourselves in such a prestigious fight with the officials, for we knew we were fighting for a just cause,” she said.

“Please remember that it was not a fight for monetary gains alone though they are equally significant given the comparatively lesser benefits we get. But it was principally intended to give a new look to women’s hockey,” Surinder Kaur explained in a chat with Sportstar. She was on her way back to the National camp in Bhopal after a brief visit to Tirupati.

“Now it is all over, the team is fully focused on its major task ahead — the World Cup to be held in Argentina in August,” Surinder Kaur said. “Fortunately, the crisis that threatened to rupture the fabric of the Indian hockey team is a thing of past, thanks to the wonderful gesture of the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chauhan. He is like a God to us now for his very touching response,” she remarked.

Surinder Kaur led the protest along with three other seniors, Dipika Murty, Mamta Kharab and Subhadra Pradhan, by not only sporting black badges but also opening a joint account in a bank with the consent of the 31 other players in the camp and urging the people to donate money.

“Let me recall here the symbolic gesture of all the players in donating Rs. 20,000 to our goalkeeper E. Rajani of Andhra Pradesh, whose father was suffering from a serious ailment. It is exactly for these reasons that we fought such a risky battle so that the players’ needs back home are also taken care of,” Surinder Kaur explained.

“Definitely, we were not scared of any dire consequences, for even the officials knew very well that we were fighting for a just cause,” said Surinder Kaur, who led India to a silver medal at the Asia Cup recently.

“Thankfully it is all over. The onus is now on us to perform. We are really grateful to the MP Government and to the Sports Authority of India for providing all the facilities we had asked for. There is no scope for any complaints,” said the seasoned campaigner.

“We are also really lucky to have a dedicated coach like Kaushik Sir (M. K. Kaushik) who has a nine-member support staff to take care of the training and conditioning,” added Surinder Kaur.

“Efforts are on for a series against Japan before the World Cup. This is to enable us to assess our strengths and weaknesses. Otherwise, I am pretty confident that this Indian team is capable of pulling off a surprise given the perfect blend of experience and youth,” she said.

“Winning the gold in the Champions Challenge in Russia was a creditable achievement and we hope to keep improving,” she said.

What about captaincy?

“I cannot say whether I will lead or not. But if given the chance it would be a great honour,” she said.

“Personally, I am elated that I was named as one of the members of the FIH All-Star women’s squad. It is a great feeling to be recognised in such a way and should only inspire me to give a better performance,” said Surinder Kaur.