Chandigarh:Former captain and Olympian Balbir Singh Senior on Monday said the Indian hockey team's failure to qualify for the Olympics should serve as a wake-up call for the people who love the sport.
"I am shocked, most hurt as I have had a long association with hockey. Today, I am feeling like losing a close relative," 83-year-old Singh said.
He said it was a day to ponder, not just for those associated with the game or its top brass, but the Government, media and the public as well.
"It will be easy to criticise two or three people, but that will not lead us to any solution. We have to rectify the system as a whole. The Government should stop step-motherly treatment towards our national game," lamented Singh.
India lost to Britain 2-0 in the qualifiers in Chile to miss the bus for the Beijing Games for the first time in eight decades.
"It won't be fair to blame the coach alone. We should try to overhaul the system, otherwise even minnows like Canada will race ahead of us," said Singh, who captained the team in 1956 that won the gold in Melbourne Olympics.
He said he would not like to blame the players for the debacle "because nobody plays the game to lose. Instead, they should introspect why there have been inconsistencies in their performances during the past couple of years".
Singh, also a member of the gold medal winning teams in the 1948 and 1952 Olympics and the first hockey player to be awarded the Padma Shri (1957), rued that incentives and rewards which hockey players get were far below their efforts they put in.