CHENNAI: Three months after being handed a ninth-month ban for creating rifts in the team by Hockey India’s disciplinary committee, Gurbaj Singh got a lifeline to revive his international career as the High Court of Haryana and Chandigarh upheld his petition and put a stay on the ban, terming it “illegal”. The court has directed the HI’s Athletes Grievances Redressal Committee to “take a call on the matter” in a week, after receiving the notice.
Though his future is still uncertain, Gurbaj is a relieved man. “I thought my career was over and felt frustrated for being framed for things I had never even thought of. But at least the court listened to my plea and now I can start dreaming of the Olympics,” he told Express from Ludhiana.
“I have to convince the committee I was innocent. I have the backing of the court and am confident they will listen, for whenever I represented the country, I gave more than 100 per cent.”
The hurdle, though, is avoiding the wrath of HI, a body that in the past vengefully overlooked players who rebelled, like Rajpal Singh and Adrian D’Souza after the pay-dispute strike in 2010. “That’s not in my hands. Everybody knows I contributed a lot to the team. I hope they understand. They can check with teammates whether I did anything detrimental to the team. I’m fit and given an opportunity, will prove it in the Surjit Cup.”
The HI stated it’s open to revoke his ban if the committee clears him. “When a coach alleges he is creating divisions, we have to take action. If the committee clears him and he proves his fitness, we will seek the coach and captain’s advice. We will be happy to have him back,” said an HI official.
Ironically, several redressal committee members like Harbinder Singh, RP Singh and Elena Norman were part of the disciplinary committee that reprimanded him. So Gurbaj is living on the Olympic prayer with fingers crossed.