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Unwanted Ritu Rani controversy could have been avoided ahead of 2016 Rio Olympics

The Indian women's hockey team is embroiled in yet another controversy just weeks before the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Ritu Rani
Ritu Rani is set to miss out on the 2016 Rio Olympics

Why is it that unwanted controversies crop up in Indian hockey, especially before a major event – a tourney as huge as the Olympics? India’s long-standing women team captain Ritu Rani leaving the national camp in Bengaluru just days before the Olympic-bound team will be officially announced has only brought to the fore one thing – controversies will never stop chasing Indian hockey.

Considered a sure shot selection in the Rio Olympics-bound team, Ritu’s issue has put Indian hockey in poor light. One remembers how Ritu was ‘rested’ for the Hawke Bay’s Cup in New Zealand – she was picked for the England tour only to be not included for the Four Nation Event in Australia – this time around one was not sure if she was ‘rested’ or ‘axed’.

It is being learnt that the team head coach Neil Hawgood has questioned her attitude and focus on the game. It may be noted that Ritu had recently got engaged and also on a few occasions skipped national camps.

One is not really sure what transpired but the question that needs to be asked is why Hawgood waited so long to take a call on Ritu with the Olympics just a month away. Indian hockey has been synonymous with controversies, and this one will have an impact as Ritu is a key operator in the midfield.

She may not score powerful drag-flick goals from penalty corners or score too many field goals, but her value to the side cannot be questioned. Her presence in the midfield is key for India.

For a team that qualified for the Olympics after 36 years under her captaincy when Hawgood was not even the team’s head coach then, India would be taking a big risk heading to the Rio Olympics without Ritu.

Forget the controversy, and what unfolded between her and Hawgood, it is the Indian team that will have to pay a big price without a ‘Ritu-less’ Indian team.

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