Amid minimal fanfare and financial support, the Indian women’s team defeated China 5-4 in the penalty shootout to win the Asia Cup 2017 on Sunday. The Indian team has been doing well for some time, finishing second or third in major tournaments but winning Asia Cup was a great feat, especially given the fact that the same team had finished 8th among 10 teams in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg less than four months ago. It was expected that after winning the Asia Cup, the members of the team might finally get some support.
As it turned out, Hockey India on Monday, announced a cash award of Rs 1 lakh each to the 18-member squad which won the tournament in Kakamigahara, Japan. Coach Harendra Singh will also get Rs 1 lakh while the members of the support staff will get Rs 50,000 each. “This is truly a commendable achievement by the Indian team, bringing back the Asia Cup after 13 years. They have shown great spirit and determination to win this tournament and have rightfully qualified for the World Cup next year as Continental Champions,” said Mushtaque Ahmad, Hockey India secretary general.
Yes, the Indian team has qualified for the World Cup but what really is Hockey India expecting from it? The reward amount says a lot. Just to put things in place, when the Indian women’s cricket team made it to the final of the ICC Women’s World Cup earlier this year, it was showered with prizes.
Harmanpreet Kaur was offered a job in the Punjab police for her superb show at the tournament and the Chief Minister of Punjab, Amarinder Singh announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh for her. The then Railways minister Suresh Prabhu announced out-of-turn promotions for women cricketers.
Most importantly, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) (a body that looks after the sport in the country) also went on to reward each India player with a sum of Rs 50 lakh and announced a cash award of Rs 25 lakh each for the support staff of the Mithali Raj-led side.
On the other hand, Hockey India (which is again the body that looks after the sport in the country) announced JUST Rs 1 lakh for each member of the team. This reward came for a team that remained unbeaten in the tournament, scoring 28 goals and conceding five. No matter how much we talk about it, things aren’t changing for the hockey team unless Hockey India starts supporting these players, financially.
With nine months left for the 14th edition of the Women’s World Cup, the team certainly deserved more appreciation, Acknowledgment and motivation, something which HI failed to deliver.