Other voices

For the first time in 80 years India failed to qualify for the Olympics. The team’s debacle in the Olympic qualifiers in Santiago, Chile, drew widespread criticism.

The anguish amongst the hockey fans in the country was palpable. Here are some reactions from the hockey buffs at the hockey stadium in Chennai.

Selvaraj, a retired official: It is far too embarrassing to talk about an Olympics without six-time winner, India. The land of Dhyan Chand will be greatly missed.

Bryan Gaughan, a former player: After finishing sixth (1988), eighth (1996) and seventh (2004), it would have been even worse to take the bottom place this time. In a way this loss to Britain is a blessing in disguise.

Mohammed, hockey lover: Things (preparations) should have started in right earnest in 2006 when we failed to reach the Asian Games final. So many years after hockey became a fast game, we are yet to adapt to modern surfaces and are still searching for penalty corner specialists.

Ramu, kabaddi player: Talking of lack of money and sponsorship, the hockey players were indeed given their due recently, though they are not treated on a par with the cricketers.

Murugan, a vendor: Lack of patronage is of course there. Once upon a time when the entry fee was small there used to be big crowd appreciating every move right from the start of a match. Now the stadium is renovated and there are no gates, yet only a handful turn up.

At a restaurant

Coyne, office attendant: There are always high hopes when Indian hockey’s prospects in the Olympics are discussed every four years. First it was will they retain (the title), next it was will they regain (the title)… then it was where will they finish? And now it is will they ever qualify at all? Sad state of affairs.

Pandian, bank officer: No use. The blame game will continue till the next Olympics, commissions and enquiries will be held. Nothing will come out of it all.