Hockey

Hockey India Controversy: Dilip Tirkey, Bhola Nath Singh Refute Claims Of 'Rift' Between Them

After resigning as the Hockey India CEO, Elena Norman had said that its president Dilip Tirkey and secretary general Bhola Nath Singh were part of two opposing factions, and it was getting tough for her to perform in the fight between them

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File photo of president Dilip Tirkey (right) and secretary general Bhola Nath Singh at the 13th Hockey India Congress in Ranchi on November 3, 2023. Photo: Hockey India
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The turmoil in Indian hockey refuses to diminish. A day after Hockey India (HI) chief executive officer Elena Norman resigned and claimed it was getting tough for her to deliver in the "fight between two factions", the people she referred to as leading the factions have refuted her claims. (More Hockey News)

"There are two factions in Hockey India. There is (president) Dilip Tirkey and I and there is (Secretary) Bholanath Singh, (Executive Director) Cdr. R K Srivastava and (Treasurer) Sekar J Manoharan," Norman had said in an interview to PTI.

But HI president Dilip Tirkey and secretary general Bhola Nath Singh issued a joint statement on Wednesday, February 28, stating that there was no truth to the allegations and that they stood united.

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"Recently there have been statements by outgoing officials published in the media, claiming that there are divisions within the organisation. This is not correct. We remain united in working together, and as always in the best interest of the sport," the duo said.

"Hockey India is an autonomous and professional body dedicated to the development of Indian hockey. Our primary objective as an organisation has been and continues to remain the welfare and progress of the sport of hockey and our athletes," they added.

Norman's resignation comes days after the Indian women's hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman stepped down, similarly complaining of a difficult work environment. Schopman had accused HI of giving step-motherly treatment to women's hockey.

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But Tirkey and Singh said the hockey body had always treated all teams and players equally. "We have built our ethos around equity and equal opportunities right from the grassroots levels across states as well as on a national level," their statement read.

"In this spirit, our entire focus remains on growing our talent, ensuring all hosted events are conducted with utmost professionalism and our national teams are receiving the best support to support their performance at the global stage."

Norman started her tenure as the federation's first CEO back in 2011, with Narinder Batra as the head.

Meanwhile, Singh said their focus is now on rebuilding the women's team, which could not qualify for the 2024 Olympic Games, and helping the men's side that is due to compete in the multi-sport extravaganza in Paris in July-August.

"We will continue in this pursuit of excellence and rebuild the women's team with a fresh approach to providing the right infrastructure and training to enhance their performance," Singh and Tirkey stated.

"In addition to this, we are cognisant of this being an Olympic year and are dedicated to aide the National Men's Team with the required support to stand on the podium yet again in the forthcoming Olympic Games in Paris this year," they added.

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(With PTI inputs)

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