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Right decision, at the right time: Dhanraj

By Bikash Mohapatra
Last updated on: January 14, 2010 17:46 IST
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This saga, after all, had a happy ending, Bollywood-style.

We are referring to the revolt by members of the Indian hockey team ahead of the World Cup.

The players had boycotted the camp in protest against the endless delays in payment of their dues and incentives, repeatedly stalled negotiations with the administrators, threatened to play with their own money, received warnings and almost forced the administrators to take a drastic step.

But, after all the drama in the last six days, it was an amicable solution in the end, with Suresh Kalmadi, the president of the Indian Olympic Association, declaring on Wednesday that the demands of the players will be looked into. Subsequently, the players agreed to resume training.

And just like at the end of a film the credit goes to the hero, in this case it was the legendary Dhanraj Pillay.

Almost every player in the team was of the opinion that the truce would not have been possible had Dhanraj not intervened. 

The legend himself was modesty personified.

"I have spent time with all these 22 players," said Dhanraj, in a characteristic emotional tone. "They know I have been fighting for these rights for years and I know that their demands are valid," he added.

So what did it take to ensure the eventual truce?

"I had been in touch with the players for the last four-five days and knew that their demands weren't too many," explained Dhanraj. "And I also had talks with Mr Suresh Kalmadi and told him I will only come forward if the problem is going to get solved.

"He was keen on a quick resolution to the issue, but wanted to understand the demands of the players first. So he asked me to come to Pune and explain."

The former India captain was also all praise for the sponsors.

"The fact that Sahara Group also released Rs 1 crore with immediate effect helped a great deal. (Hockey India doesn't have any money)," opined Dhanraj. "I would say it was a positive approach on the part of both Mr Kalmadi and the sponsors."

But with little time left for the World Cup doesn't he feel that the controversy couldn't have come at a worse time and might as well affect the players mentally?

"The situation was similar before the 1998 Asian Games as well and we came back with the gold," retorted Dhanraj.

"I would say that one has to start on a positive note and we can still do well.

"This was a right decision, made at the right time."

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