New Delhi: The 53rd Senior Women's National Hockey Championship is being held at Delhi's Shivaji Stadium. The tournament, which features the top 13 teams of the country, is being played to empty galleries. And one reason for public's disinterest could well be the dismal show by Indian women's team in the recent past. India finished a poor fifth in last month's KT Cup Women's hockey tournament in Korea, losing even to minnows like Ireland. Dismal performance The performance of the Indian team has gone down gradually after winning the Commonwealth gold medal at Manchester in 2002, the Afro-Asian Gold in 2003 and the Asia Cup last year. Many owe it to the lack of bench strength and just a handful of tournaments on the domestic circuit. In fact, this year's national championship is itself being organised after a gap of two years as the last year's edition was cancelled due to lack of sponsors and funds. "Seniors are quite good while the juniors need a lot of exposure to reach another level," says Sita Gossain, former Indian captain. Many coaches also blame the Indian Women's Hockey Association of succumbing to regional politics and ignoring talent while selecting the best lot of players for the national team. "Coaches should be given a free hand. They should not be under any kind of pressure," says Baldev Singh, Coach, Haryana hockey team. Whatever the reason though, the truth is that women's hockey in India is going through a bad patch and the IWHA will have act fast to arrest this dipping graph.