There is a great deal of relief in Indian hockey circles following Hockey India's decision to lift the nine-month ban on Indian hockey midfielder Gurbaj Singh, thus paving the way for the player’s potential return to the national fold.
Former Indian captain and Hockey Punjab President Pargat Singh hailed the decision to lift the ban on Gurbaj.
“I regularly talk to Narender Batraji on various hockey matters and have been requesting him to clear the decks for Gurbaj’s return to the national side. I never believe in pressurizing anybody but have been requesting him to ensure that if a player is needed for the country and has not committed any grave offence, he should be called back. I welcome Hockey India’s decision to lift the ban on Gurbaj,” the Shiromani Akali Dal MLA from Jallandhar Cantonment says in an informal chat.
The 50-year-old former India captain, who represented the country in three Olympic Games and even led the side in the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, believes such lengthy bans can be detrimental against any player.
“Look, discipline has to be there and no player should be spared. I think if a player has misbehaved he can be suspended for a few games, which is normal in international football or any sport. Nine months is slightly harsh and a player of Gurbaj’s stature could not have seen any light at the end of the tunnel,” he quips.
Pargat hopes that there is no bad feeling among all for Gurbaj just because he moved the court for justice. “Indian hockey is more important than any individual player or official including me, hockey should move forward – that should be the main focus area. If a player does not serve his place by dint of performance, he should not be picked,” he observes.
Pargat, who served in the Punjab police force before plunging into politics, agrees that Indian hockey is moving forward since the 2012 London Olympics.
“If you look at Indian hockey since the last Olympics, I have to say that it is progressing. I will be more convinced about our revival once we start doing well in major tournaments like the World Cup and Olympics and improve our world ranking from number eight. Clearly, the progress is there, but we have a long road ahead before we become world-beaters,” he opines.