The team was the toast of its fans at the airport. There were garlands and sweets for the players, and bhangra in the air. Then the interviews with the media. The celebrations and interviews over, the officials returned home in their cars, while the handful of players—most of them Punjab-bound as the others dispersed from Chennai and Bangalore—were herded into stuffy Rs 600-a-night rooms in a dingy Paharganj hotel. The euphoria over the win abruptly evaporated.
Ironical, because the IHF seems to be finally on the right path to put together a world-beating side. From good team combinations to regular competitions to commando training for improving fitness levels, it has taken a series of right decisions. But the mental well-being of the players still does not seem to figure in their scheme of things.