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Appointing manager, and disappointing player (10/11/2003)
--Suprita Das (NDTV)

Aslam Sher Khan is, in many ways, an Indian equivalent of Ric Charlesworth - irrepressibly multifaceted personality. Like the twice Western Australian Member of Parliament, the 1975 World Cup hero, Aslam too won the parliament election twice from Betul constituency in the central part of India. Unlike Ric's failed dream, Aslam rose to become a minister in the union government too, albeit for a brief period. The Indian Hockey Federation has recently rubbed such a great personality on his wrong side.

Details: Olympian Aslam has of late quite the body politics; and has shown enough interest to return to the hockey's fold. He was at Kuala Lumpur watching the World Cup. Thereafter, he has spent about a week at the North Eastern States as a selector of the Indian team for the Myanmar meet. His presence went in a long way in boosting the morale of the players and administrators of the long neglected region. Besides invited to attend many official meetings, he was asked to select the national men's team for the double-leg Australia 4-nation tournament last fortnight. In order to accomplish the assigned task, Aslam often watched the practice sessions at the National Stadium in New Delhi even before the mandatory trials began. Considering the fact that none of the 20-odd former Olympians in Delhi bothered to visit the national camp, his interest turned out to be a silver lining. On the first day of the trail, he was the lone selector to watch the proceedings. Iqbaljit Singh, another selector from Mumbai missed the morning session due to late arrival of train while the government nominee, Jalaluddin Rizvi, failed to turn up at all.

Seeing his sincerity, competent Indian Hockey Federation officials at Delhi proposed Aslam for the manager of the Australian trip. The team and the management list was faxed to KPS Gill, president , IHF, who was then at Ahmadabad, where he has been posted as a high profile Security Advisor to the Chief Minister of the region. Aslam was also quite enthusiastic about the assignment.

"When I was in politics, I was completely into it. I did not involve in hockey affairs. I even resigned from the Presidentship of the Bhopal Hockey Association once elected for the parliament. Similarly, when I left the politics, I did it completely. Now, I am in hockey. Take it from me, I will be totally into it. In the last few months I have got again familiarized with the current set of players, coaches and others, their problems, how they function, what are the shortfalls and all that. Now I will try to improve the lot" He said to this writer on the day of the trial regarding his future prospects.

But, unfortunately, instead of availing the services of such an experienced hand, the IHF boss has directed back that only someone from the Indian Hockey Federation should accompany the team. Even his own cohorts in Delhi were stunned at it, and perforce had to cut a sorry face in front of Aslam. Exceptions apart, mostly small time officials, who have nothing to do with hockey but has a say in the IHF elections, have accompanied the teams as managers. That's why they often do not open their mouth at the manager's meeting is a different matter. Every year, at least 10 to 12 various Indian teams undertake trips abroad. Eligible persons like Aslam could have been accommodated at least for once. The IHF is not ready to even do this. This is an insult to a sincere personality, and avoidable too.

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