HI sees red after players ordered to change shorts from sky blue to white

MUMBAI: A change in colour of shorts of the Indian hockey team before its second Champions Trophy match against Great Britain has made Hockey India (HI) see red.

Before India’s game against the hosts on Saturday, the Champions Trophy tournament director ordered the Indian players to wear white shorts and sky blue shirts, as opposed to the team’s primary uniform of sky blue shorts and sky blue shirts.

The reason given was that Great Britain’s playing attire comprised dark blue shorts, which could create colour similarities on the field with India’s light blue ones. As such, the Indians were asked to switch to white.

There are two aspects to this which has got the HI riled up. Firstly, the similarities in the colour seem too far-fetched, and there would have been no glaring resemblance to light blue and dark blue shorts on the field.

But interestingly, just a day before, India played their opening game against Germany, and the uniform of Germany wasn’t very different to that of Great Britain. On Friday, the Germans wore black shorts during the match against India, which were similar in terms of colour, darkness and appearance to the shorts the Brits wore a day later.

However, the Indians were allowed to wear their usual sky blue shorts against Germany, while being ordered to switch for the Great Britain tie. This, according to HI, was a case of mind games before India’s crucial match against the hosts.

It is learnt that HI will take up the matter with officials of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) when president Narinder Batra visits London this week. “This is nothing but a case of trying to disrupt the Indian team’s mindset before the game against the hosts,” a senior HI official said on condition of anonymity. “Being ordered to change your uniform on the day of the game is rare in international hockey, unless the two teams’ attires are almost similar, which wasn’t the case here.

“Even if it was, why didn’t the tournament director give the Indians the same instruction before the Germany game? If you look the shorts of Germany and Great Britain, their colour is very similar. So, why did the order of change come only before India’s game against the hosts?” the official added.

According to rules, every team is supposed to inform the tournament organisers about their official uniform for that event, each team having two sets it. For India, their primary uniform for the event sky blue shirts and sky blue shorts, while the secondary uniform is white shirts and white shorts. On Saturday, the tournament director ordered the players to wear one from each set (sky blue shirts and white shorts).

“These things matter a lot to the players. When HI had made India’s uniform colour yellow for one year some time ago, many players said that they missed the feeling of playing in blue clothing, because that is what India is known for,” the official said.

“So, imagine playing in an attire that you are not totally comfortable with. It is bound to affect the players. And thus, HI will take this matter up seriously with the FIH in due course,” he added.