When Indian hockey is grappling with grassroots issues, including coaching the coaches and the youngsters, it is heartening to see two stalwarts V. Baskaran and M.K. Kaushik, who were part of the National side that won its eighth and last Olympics gold in Moscow 34 years ago, assisting India’s chief coach Terry Walsh and High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans.

As the Indian team prepares for the Hockey World League final (scheduled to start here from Friday), Baskaran and Kaushik are sharing their experience with the players.

“Hockey changes every two years. Whatever you see now will be different after two years. So, one has to keep oneself up-to-date,” Baskaran told The Hindu.

“Today the game has become more and more physical. Besides, there are a lot of tactical things in the game now. For example, if the Europeans play fast then they need space for that. We need to block the space and for that we have to be physically stronger.”

Kaushik added: “There is no age when you cannot learn. Everyday you learn about hockey as well as life.”

In their 60s, Baskaran and Kaushik begin the day at 7.30 a.m. and pack up at 11 p.m. “There are a lot of behind-the-scenes activities such as meetings, analysis, training sessions, etc.,” said Baskaran. He agreed that the biggest challenge was educating coaches and players at the grassroots level. “If I coach Sardar Singh here, why cannot I coach him in the Haryana team? But it is not simple.

“The main challenge is how to teach the coaches who are employed with the Sports Authority of India and various State governments.”

Kaushik did not see merit in teaching skills to the players of the National side. But he agreed that coaching the coaches at the local level was important. “Who will teach them? Everybody should come together and think about this,” he said.

Indian squad named

Forward Yuvraj Walmiki returns to national duty after more than a year while goalkeeper Harjot Singh was rewarded for his impressive performance as Hockey India named the 18-member squad for the World League Final.

The squad: Goalkeepers: P.R. Sreejesh, Harjot Singh; Defenders: Birendra Lakra, Rupinder Pal Singh, V.R. Raghunath, Kothajit Singh, Amit Rohidas; Midfielders: Sardar Singh, S.K. Uthappa, Dharamvir Singh, Manpreet Singh, Chinglensana Singh, M.B. Aiyappa; Forwards: Nikkin Thimmaiah, S.V. Sunil, Mandeep Singh, Affan Yousuf, Yuvraj Walmiki

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