Dear Sports Minister, while you were busy distributing prizes and honouring our present sporting greats this month, you might have forgotten some of India’s prominent sportspersons who are lost in annals of history. And one of them is former Indian hockey player Vincent Lakra.
Even after playing for the Indian hockey team for 14 years, Vincent Lakra is living a life of sheer poverty and negligence. Hailing from Sithraa village in Dharamjaigarh block of Raigarh district, a remote tribal village in Chhattisgarh, Lakra is leading a desolated life in his village with a meagre pension with which he runs a family of 11. Official neglect has turned his life into a struggle.
The glorious moment came in Lakra’s life when he went to play the 1978 Hockey World Cup in Buenos Aires, Argentina. One of the best central forwards of his time, Lakra helped the team finish fifth in the tournament where they even defeated the host team. Throughout his career, he brought many laurels for India, yet he had to turn into a farmer with no help from the government. Lakra played his final match for India in 1984.
A year ago, he was further pushed into misery after he suffered a stroke and a side of his body became paralysed. No help came from any quarters when he was struggling in the hospital.
Lakra, though, seems to have taken it in his stride. He tried his hand in coaching but failed to turn the things in his favour. None of his family members get any support and have to rely primarily on farming to make their ends meet. Though many from the Indian hockey fraternity is leading a life of recognition, Lakra’s story remains hidden from the mainstream.