Frozen wallets

India’s ice hockey team hopes to melt hearts online, seeks to crowdfund trip to key tournament

India's ice hockey team has taken to social media in a bid to raise Rs 12 lakhs to participate in the upcoming International Challenge Cup.

Surprise No 1: Despite its mostly soaring temperatures, India has a national ice hockey team. Surprise No 2: the squad has been regularly participating in international tournaments for more than six years. What isn't surprising, though, is the fact that the team ‒ like many other non-cricket sports in India ‒ is facing a money crunch before an important international tournament.

This has forced the squad to go  online to solicit donations so that it can travel to Kuwait to take part in the Asia division leg of the International Ice Hockey Federation Challenge Cup, which starts on April 18. The players in the squad have already contributed Rs 20,000 each but the team needs to raise Rs 12 lakhs more to make it to the tournament. They have been urging supporters to donate anything from Rs 100 up to Rs 1 lakh.

So far, though, only about Rs 62,000 have been raised from 39 donations.

The team has been unsuccessful in securing sponsorships. "We have tried, but have been completely unsuccessful in getting any corporate sponsorship. Right now we are targeting HNIs [high net-worth individuals] and angel investors," Akshay Kumar, director of the Ice Hockey Association of India told the Economic Times.

 

Tweet to the rescue

As the date of the tournament approaches, the association has been trying to gather support on  Twitter. “Yesterday, the hashtag #SupportIceHockey was trending nationwide and many people noticed us,” Vedank Singh, the Ice Hockey Association of India's digital marketing lead, said on Sunday.

 

Singh further added that many influential people have come forward to support but the team is still awaiting its first sponsorship contract. “Even [businessman] Anand Mahindra called us up and assured of support after he noticed the tweets,” Singh said. “We are hopeful that he would contribute as we are still short by more than Rs. 3 lakh.”

Even though the sport has a relatively small following, ice hockey is played enthusiastically in cold places such as Shimla and Ladakh. The sport came to India during British colonial rule and has been nurtured by the Indian army.

Today, much of the team is composed of army personnel and members of the Indo-Tibetan border police, along with a smattering of students. They are currently training in the skating rink of the Ambience Mall in Gurgaon. The facility is only one-fourth the size of an Olympic ice-hockey surface but it is the best option available to the Indian team.

“We had to start the funding process because nobody noticed us,” Singh said.  "Popular games like cricket take away all the limelight and glory.”

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Some of the worst decisions made in history

From the boardroom to the battlefield, bad decisions have been a recipe for disaster

On New Year’s Day, 1962, Dick Rowe, the official talent scout for Decca Records, went to office, little realising that this was to become one of the most notorious days in music history. He and producer Mike Smith had to audition bands and decide if any were good enough to be signed on to the record label. At 11:00 am, either Rowe or Smith, history is not sure who, listened a group of 4 boys who had driven for over 10 hours through a snowstorm from Liverpool, play 15 songs. After a long day spent listening to other bands, the Rowe-Smith duo signed on a local group that would be more cost effective. The band they rejected went on to become one of the greatest acts in musical history – The Beatles. However, in 1962, they were allegedly dismissed with the statement “Guitar groups are on the way out”.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Decca’s decision is a classic example of deciding based on biases and poor information. History is full of examples of poor decisions that have had far reaching and often disastrous consequences.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Few military blunders are as monumental as Napoleon’s decision to invade Russia. The military genius had conquered most of modern day Europe. However, Britain remained out of his grasp and so, he imposed a trade blockade against the island nation. But the Russia’s Czar Alexander I refused to comply due to its effect on Russian trade. To teach the Russians a lesson, Napolean assembled his Grand Armée – one of the largest forces to ever march on war. Estimates put it between 450,000 to 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon had been so successful because his army could live off the land i.e. forage and scavenge extensively to survive. This was successful in agriculture-rich and densely populated central Europe. The vast, barren lands of Russia were a different story altogether. The Russian army kept retreating further and further inland burning crops, cities and other resources in their wake to keep these from falling into French hands. A game of cat and mouse ensued with the French losing soldiers to disease, starvation and exhaustion. The first standoff between armies was the bloody Battle of Borodino which resulted in almost 70,000 casualties. Seven days later Napoleon marched into a Moscow that was a mere shell, burned and stripped of any supplies. No Russian delegation came to formally surrender. Faced with no provisions, diminished troops and a Russian force that refused to play by the rules, Napolean began the long retreat, back to France. His miseries hadn’t ended - his troops were attacked by fresh Russian forces and had to deal with the onset of an early winter. According to some, only 22,000 French troops made it back to France after the disastrous campaign.

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to sports, few long time Indian cricket fans can remember the AustralAsia Cup final of 1986 without wincing. The stakes were extremely high – Pakistan had never won a major cricket tournament, the atmosphere at the Sharjah stadium was electric, the India-Pakistan rivalry at its height. Pakistan had one wicket in hand, with four runs required off one ball. And then the unthinkable happened – Chetan Sharma decided to bowl a Yorker. This is an extremely difficult ball to bowl, many of the best bowlers shy away from it especially in high pressure situations. A badly timed Yorker can morph into a full toss ball that can be easily played by the batsman. For Sharma who was then just 18 years old, this was an ambitious plan that went wrong. The ball emerged as a low full toss which Miandad smashed for a six, taking Pakistan to victory. Almost 30 years later, this ball is still the first thing Chetan Sharma is asked about when anyone meets him.

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