Mumbai: Mercurial former captain Dhanraj Pillay feels it is high time that Indian hockey players are paid match fees.
"The hockey players should be paid Rs 25,000 per international match. We used to subsist on a meagre allowance of USD 20 when we played for the country. We could not even invite our friends for a cup of coffee at the top hotels we stayed in or else go out of pocket," said Pillay at the India International Sports Summit.
Taking part in a panel discussion along with former Pakistan cricket captain Wasim Akram, Pillay again took a pot shot at Hockey India for offering a meagre bonus of Rs 25,000 each to the playing members of the Indian team that won the Asian Champions Trophy in China recently.
"It hurt me a lot. They should have just invited them for a cup of tea and not offered this meagre amount," he voiced.
Pillay endorsed the view of Akram who said India-Pakistan sports encounters helped a sportsperson`s mental toughness to take on any other team in the world as they grew up in their particular discipline.
"India-Pakistan matches are pressure situations. I agree with Wasimbhai that they should be started at the under 16 and under 19 levels too. We used to lie awake prior to a match against Pakistan. On the field we wanted to kill them and they too wanted to kill us," he said.
Akram, who represented his country in 104 Tests and 356 ODIs between 1985 and 2003, wanted India and Pakistan to engage in sports at all levels.
"We should have regular contests in all sports from the under 16, under 19 levels. India-Pakistan games are pressure games. Once a player knows to handle the pressure in these matches he can play against all other teams," said the 45-year-old Akram.