Dhanraj Pillay wants Pakistanis to participate in Hockey India League

Former India captain Dhanraj Pillay on Monday batted for the participation of Pakistani players in Hockey India League and suggested the league authorities to earmark an amount money for setting up academies to develop and improve the quality of the sport in India.

Pillay said Hockey India should have taken permission from the politicians to allow Pakistani players to participate in Hockey India League. “Hockey India should have taken permission from the politicians to allow Pakistani players to participate in the HIL. I don’t think they would have any issues with that,” he stated.

Pillay is in the city for the second edition of Bengaluru Cup which is being played at the Hockey Stadium in Bengaluru. Pillay is guiding Air India team.

The crux of the matter is that Pakistanis refused to tender apology for their misconduct and hence they have banned them from playing in the HIL, Pillay said. “The problem is they have not apologized for their misconduct … that happens. However, things could have been sorted if the federations would have approached the politicians,” he said.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on December 14 last year banned two Pakistani players for one match each in the aftermath of Pakistan’s victory over India in the Champions Trophy semifinal. After winning the game 4-3 in a thrilling battle, several Pakistani players had removed their shirts, danced in jubilation, and raised obscene gestures towards the crowd.

Replying to a query on development of academies in the country to boost hockey, Pillay said Hockey India League authorities should siphon off some money for setting up of academies to breed young talented players. “The HIL authorities should give some money for setting up of academies to breed young talents and bring them onto the world stage,” he said.

“We had appointed Roelant Oltmans as the High Performance Director, but did not give any grassroot programme for developing and improving the sport in India. Oltman was aiming only at the established players whether they were playing for a junior, sub-junior, Under-21 or senior team. He slowly spread his wings, came closer to Hockey India official, and now he is been appointed as India Hockey Coach,” he said.

On the issue of foreign coach, Pillay said the country does not require them because the country has enough quality coaches. “Moreover Dhyanchand, Daljeet Singh Dhillon, Jugaraj Singh and myself are products of Indian coaches, not foreign,” Pillay argued.

“Foreign coaches also does not give hundred per cent to different countries and language is the biggest barrier as Indian players do not understand English,” Pillay said.

Asked if he would follow in the footsteps of Sachin Tendulkar and Mahendra Singh Dhoni to buy a Hockey India League team, Pillay said he has no wherewithal to buy one, but could start a league spending Rs 20 lakh in Maharashtra. “I don’t think. I am not in a position to buy a team, but I can start something like a Pune and Mumbai League by spending Rs 20 lakh. I cannot spend Rs six crore on buying team,” he said.

Replying to yet another query, Pillay said the Hockey India League has raised money in the sport and now the players are getting huge money which is good. “When I started my career in 1992, I was earning Rs 1.25 lakh, but now players are earning almost Rs 70 lakh. Yes, the league has not only brought lot of money to players but also to federations,” he said.

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