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'World Cup next target for hockey team'

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May 20, 2008 13:29 IST

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi on Tuesday felicitated the Indian hockey team for their commendable performance at the Azlan Shah Cup and said the team's next priority is to perform at the 2010 World Cup and qualify for the 2012 Olympics.

India went down 2-1 in extra-time against Argentina in the final of the Azlan Shah hockey tournament in Ipoh, Malaysia, on Sunday.

"Our immediate responsibility is the World Cup and then the 2012 Olympics Games. We would be having a seminar with the players, coach and the organisers to churn out our future plan of action," he said.

Kalmadi said it is the IOA's responsibility to improve the image of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) after it was in news for all wrong reasons in recent months.

"We are not going to be around for too long, a lot of wrong has been done, so our responsibility is to improve the status of IHF so that it can continue with the responsibility," he said.

Kalmadi also said steps would be taken to improve hockey at the grassroot level and promised to revive the national and the league tournaments.

"Our next job would be to restart the national championship and reviving the Premier Hockey League. We will soon have 100 sensitive turfs to start with and the boys would be given 100 days of international, 60 days domestic and 100 days of training exposure," he said.

Asked how they are planning to arrange sponsorship for the game, Kalmadi said they are in talks with the industry.

"We have got calls from the industry, there have been a lot of enthusiasm among them and we will get enough sponsorship to revive the sagging status of hockey," he said.

On the team's silver medal winning performance in Malaysia, Kalmadi said it is a good start and thanked the IOC for its support.

"It is a proud moment for us, it is a very good start but it is just the beginning. I am thankful to the International Olympic Committee for its support and Ric Charlesworth for his expertise," he said.