A few days after notching up a historic bronze medal finish at the 2015 Hockey World League Final Round in Raipur, some of the Indian players were in no mood to take some well-deserved rest and instead opted to hit the pitch in the golden jubilee edition of the Dabang Mumbai 50th Mumbai Gold Hockey Tournament at the MHAL Stadium in Mumbai.
The hectic international schedule coupled with long-drawn national camps effectively means national players don’t get much of an opportunity to play for their employers. Indian drag-flicker Vokkaliga Raghunath, who was the top goal-scorer in the recent Test series against Australia, was seen doing his bit for Indian Oil Corporation, who are last year’s runners-ups after having lost to BPCL in a gruelling shootout 18-19. Striker Dharamvir Singh hit the straps slamming a sparkling two hat-tricks. Midfielder Kothajit Singh is also busy throwing his weight in the IOC defence blunting out opposition raids.
Defending champions BPCL has four current Indian players turning out for them – Birendra Lakra, SV Sunil, Manpreet Singh and Mohd Amir Khan with another Lalit Upadhay out on injury grounds. Devinder Walmiki is another guy, who is plying his skills for Central Railway, while Manipuri Chinglensana Singh, who scored against the Netherlands in the league phase of the 2015 Hockey World League Final Round, is turning out for Western Railway.
“National tournaments badly need the participation of Indian stars as that is the only way to raise the profile of domestic events. It is difficult to fit a programme in such a way that Indian players regularly feature in the domestic tourneys as international events will be accorded more priority, and rightly so,” says former Mumbai-based coach.
The active participation of Indian hockey star in domestic tournaments is a pressing need and one hopes that the Mumbai Gold Cup will be a trend-setter of sorts for the future. “One hopes so. Indian hockey is in good health and therefore the presence of big stars in domestic tournaments can make our domestic structure even more competitive than ever before,” the coach added.