New Delhi:Having already missed the first deadline, Sports Minister MS Gill on Monday asked Hockey India not to let the country down by failing to hold elections by the February date set by the international federation.
Gill said he has accepted the FIH's decision to extend the time to hold elections to February and HI should not miss the deadline this time.
"HI could not hold elections by November 20 and FIH has extended the deadline till February next year. I have accepted that and HI must hold elections by that time. For this HI should first ensure the formation of a single body for men and women in all states," he said.
"I had a meeting with FIH vice-president Antonio von Ondarza and before that with FIH chief Leonardo Negre. He said two things. First there should be a single hockey India for men and women; second, have an elected body in good time," said Gill on the sidelines of Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan National Sports Meet here.
The minister said the elections to HI should be fair and transparent in the democratic tradition of the country.
"India is a democratic country where there are free and fair elections to the Parliament. HI elections must be totally transparent which will have to be acceptable to the country."
Earlier, while inaugurating the KVS sports meet, Gill said the slow pace of preparations for the 2010 Commonwealth Games was due the initial "casual attitude" of authorities.
"We got the Games in 2003 and of course we should have completed construction of infrastructure by last year or early this year but it did not happen. This was because people took it casually in the first year," Gill said.
"But now, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet and everybody involved have taken the resolve that there should not be any more problems and we should host a successful Games. And we shall do so," he added.
Gill offered words of encouragement to the more than 7000 assembled children, saying they are the future of Indian sports.
"If I am to look for a gold medal in the Olympics or a world event I have to start from you. You are the future," he said.
"We have to find young talents like a Rafael Nadal, a Steffi Graf or a (Juan Martin) Del Potro who were winners at a young age," he added.
He also urged the country's education minister to make "playing period" compulsory in every school and not to give recognition to schools which do not have proper sports infrastructure.
"Indian education system is all about remembering and get 99 per cent in examinations. I have been telling Kapil Sibal that take up reforms in universities later but at first make playing period everyday compulsory in schools first.
"It is against the Constitution of India. The children also have the same rights as adults. They need time to play and enjoy," he added.
Going down memory lane, Gill joked that he tried his hand at every sport including boxing.
"I have played every game including boxing. But I took a beating every time, I have never won a boxing bout," he said.
"I am also an NCC student as well as a boy scout in my school days. I have done what you have been doing. My plan in the years to come is to expand the boy scout. I am delighted to see them," he said.
Gill rued the lack of playing fields in the country.
"We have very few playing fields in the country. Moreover, private or even government organisations take control of whatever few playing fields which are there. After visiting England where there is an association to protect playing fields I have formed a national association in India also," he said.
"I am the president of the national body and I am trying to form such associations in all the states to protect the playing fields all over the country," he added.