India’s men’s hockey team may have been pacified but now the women are angry alleging their dues haven’t been cleared despite world class performances over the past few years.
On Thursday the chill in the early morning air in Bhopal where the women’s team is busy practicing brought with it a stark image.
India’s hockey women were not following in the footsteps of their male counterparts but instead wearing black armbands as a way of sending a message.
“The question we pose to Hockey India is what is the difference in the time, energy and effort put in by the men and that put in by the women? If they can give us the answer and justify it we will remove the band,” asked team centre forward Deepika Murthy.
Some of the girls are in fact penniless, only half hold jobs and the seniors decided self help is the best help.
They have set up a bank account and contributing to it themselves to take the first step towards improving their state.
“Senior players have opened a joint account to help us and depositing money ourselves. The account is open for all to help” said Mamta Kharab.
The resonance of this unique protest was immediately felt in the corridors of power.
Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Chouhan offered a helping hand.
“Madhya Pradesh government is ready to bear all expenses of the women’s hockey team,” claimed Chouhan.
In Delhi, a nervous Hockey India President Vidya Stokes, who was once the head of women’s hockey in India, offered an olive branch
“We are giving Rs 50,000 cheque to every one immediately. We are also asking the Sports Ministry for help. We will give Rs 50,000 later,” said Vidya.
But the girls weren’t willing to bite, sticking to their guns and demanding to be paid what is owed to them.
“I don’t the sum of Rs 50,000 is an answer. It is very less when compared to what has been given to the men and we don’t accept it,” Deepika said.
There is no difference between men and women in terms of skills and the amount of hard work required at the highest level of international hockey. The Indian women’s hockey team is also saying the same thing.