Abhishek Tripathi, Bhubaneswar. Former Indian men’s hockey team captain Dilip Tirkey wants the management to send a strong hockey team to the Commonwealth Games to be held in Birmingham after the Hangzhou Asian Games was postponed due to rising cases of corona in China. Tirkey, however, expressed disappointment over the postponement of the Asian Games, saying India had a good chance of qualifying directly for the 2024 Paris Olympics by winning it.

He said, ‘I believe that Hockey India should send the number one team in the men’s and women’s categories in the Commonwealth Games. Had the Asian Games not been postponed, it was understandable that you would send ‘A’ teams to the Commonwealth Games. It would have been difficult for the players to maintain the momentum in the two tournaments. But now I see no reason not to send my top players to the Commonwealth. This is an important tournament for the sporting calendar year and some of the toughest hockey teams like England, Australia and New Zealand will be participating in it. I want our core team to participate in this.

Tirkey is one of the hockey selectors in the national selection committee. However, he said that he has not had any discussion with Hockey India regarding this. Tirkey said he would explain his decision and try to persuade the federation. In March this year, former captain Sardar Singh and former striker Deepak Thakur were appointed as the coaches of the Indian men’s and women’s ‘A’ teams to participate in the Commonwealth Games.

Veteran players Rupinder Pal Singh, Birender Lakra and SV Sunil were asked to return from retirement. This happened after Hockey India decided not to send the main team for the multi-sport event due to the small gap between the Commonwealth and the Asian Games.

Tirkey said, ‘I was confident of our victory in the Asian Games. Form and rhythm were with us. With this, we would have secured our place for the Olympics two years ago. I don’t think the postponement of the Asian Games is an ideal situation for us. By the time the Asian Games are held next year, some of our senior players will have retired. We have one year left to prepare for the Paris Olympics. I am not happy with the postponement of the Games, but we have to understand the situation and the value of human life.

The former captain also advised the Indian team not to wait for the Asian Games to qualify for the Olympics. “If the FIH has a plan ahead of the Asian Games, the boys should try to qualify for one of the continental qualification tournaments next year,” Tirkey said.

Edited By: Viplove Kumar