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Cash rains as hope rekindled in Bhopal (3/30/2010)
--K. Arumugam
All of a sudden, it looks, money rains for hockey in Madhya Pradesh. At least this is the impression one gets after visiting the former hockey nursery and witnessing state government loosening its purse strings in the revived Obaidullah Cup.

Madhya Pradesh government has pledged Rs.1 crore towards Chief Minister's Hockey Players Welfare Fund, and vowed to fulfil any other demand of players in future. undefined

"This 1 crore is an initial pledge. We will do more if the situation needs", said Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the chief minister of MP state, before the final of the revived Obaidullah Cup at the historic Aisbagh hockey stadium.

The chief minister also announced a tournament for girl in Bhopal and invitation to foreign teams for the Obaidullah Cup in future. "The next year Obaiduallah Cup will be grander in all aspects", the Chief minister said.

He also unveiled a talent search program by which each district will have hockey ground facility, stipend to prospective talents, a centralized training camps.

"Money won't be a problem in reviving our national game", he was emphatic in his assertion, much to the clap of the crowd.

Before the final match, the chief minister presented a cheque for Rs.18 lac to the Indian World Cup team. He has announced Rs. 1 lac to each Indian goal scorer, and then it was wisely decided to give each member of the team Rs.1 lac. The team in fact requested like this during the dinner the chief minister hosted the previous night at his residence.

Local lads Shivendra Singh and Samir Dad, in addition, were given each Rs. 1 lac.

This year's Obaidullah competition, which the state government organized successfully, made many milestones.

For the first time ever in our domestic scene, Rs 10.5 lac was given away as prize money alone. yesterday, winners Air India walked away with a booty of Rs. 5 lac as Obaidullah winners, the runners up BPCL with 3 lac, bronze winners IOC 2 lac and the fourth finished team -- orgnizers termed it third runner up -- Rs. 50,000.

Besides, best player of each match got Rs.5000, and the player of the tournament with Rs.1 lac.

undefined Its a fact that most of the tournaments held in rest of India, especially in the northern part of India except Nehru Cup, hardly gives the players their due. Though the tournament organizers are adept at marketing, they did not feel it worth to part the booty to players. For example, Shastri Cup in Delhi hardly gives any prize money, and the tournament is running 25th year!!

That's why the Bhopal turn around is a welcome thing.

This Bhopal booty comes as surprise as the Tournament itself was going the Aga Khan Cup way -- the prestigious Bombay event is in limbo since many years -- due to factional fight in the Bhopal Hockey Association.

The factional fights are still there, but it seems both factions have been impressed upon by the government to give in writing in favour of the state reviving the competition.

Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the state Chief Minister, turned the saviour of our Women National Team a couple of months ago, when they wore black band to protest against the gender discrimination from Hockey India. The benevolent chief minister gave Rs. 1 crore to share between 30 players who were then in a camp in Bhopal at the Sports Authority of India's Central Centre.

undefined It is already known the Sports and Youth Welfare department of the State is running hockey academy for both boys and girls. The department also laid turfs at Bhopal and Gwalior to cater to these acadamies, and two more(in Betul and Shivni) are being laid. It is expected another turf will also be laid in Bhopal in the 'new city' region.

Bhopal in the past produced great teams and valuable players for the country. Though it is not the scenerio any more, the sinew of activities the state government has initiated, will see the game revived in the most important province of India.

Around ten thousand people witnessed the Obaidullah final.

As of now, all is well for hockey in Madhya Pradesh

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