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Gurbaj Singh deserves spot in Indian team: Pargat Singh

Gurbaj Singh
Gurbaj Singh (L) in action during an earlier competition 

The prolonged absence of midfielder Gurbaj Singh from the national team has been seen as Hockey India using its ‘might’ to settle scores with him, literally saying ‘pay a heavy price for taking us to court’.

And yes, Gurbaj has indeed paid a ‘big price’ for showing the ‘audacity’ to take the federation to court – for he is now in peril of not making his second Olympic appearance at Rio in five months’ time.

The Punjab Police DSP has been enduring a heap of setbacks one after another. First was the nine-month ban slapped on him, followed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court terming the ban ‘illegal’ prompting Hockey to lift the ban.

Gurbaj had spent two months of his nine-month ban when the court proceedings took place, and by then he missed out on the HIL auctions. The next disappointment was his name missing from the HIL reserve players’ list.

Of course, he was picked in a second-string national side for the 2016 SAF Games in Guwahati only to be again overlooked for the national camp for the Olympic preparations. Clearly, Gurbaj has weathered all that and is still looking to remain positive about the future.

Hockey India unfair to Gurbaj

Former India captain and Hockey Punjab president Pargat Singh believes Hockey India has been unfair to him. “Look, the country is more important than a player but if a player deserves to be in the national team, he should be picked. Gurbaj deserves a spot in the Indian team – he is an Olympian and has experience of 200 internationals.”

It may be mentioned that Hockey Punjab president Pargat Singh had contested the Hockey India elections in 2010 and there are whispers that the federation does not exactly have cordial relations with the three-time Olympian. “If Batraji has any animosity against me, that’s fine but why deny a deserving player like Gurbaj a place in the national team. I do not harbor any ill-feeling against anybody and I’m always for betterment of Indian hockey. I had spoken to Batraji many times on the Gurbaj issue but he says he does not interfere in selection matters, how far is that true is all for you all to find out,” Pargat adds.

Pargat, who is a Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Jalandhar Cantt constituency, has not given up on Gurbaj playing in the Rio Olympics. “I’m still optimistic – I will talk to Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in this regard to reinstate Gurbaj but at the same time I don’t want any distractions for our players in their Olympic preparations,” he quips.

Gurbaj, on his part, can hope to ride out the current crisis and wear the national jersey sooner than later. Of course, a much-awaited comeback for Gurbaj is only possible if Hockey India gets down from its high horses and recalls him and not carrying any baggage for the playing taking the ‘court’ route.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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