Indian hockey has got rid of its fourth foreign coach in Michael Nobbs and triggered the debate on the need for a foreign coach.
The discerning contend that India has made the bottom half of the world rankings its home for quite some years now and the miracle of a revival has remained a distant dream.
“It shows how poorly we plan things. The sacking of Nobbs indicates that our plan is failing (every time). It means the administration has to take responsibility,” said Ashok Kumar, a member of the 1975 World Cup-winning Indian team.
Aslam Sher Khan, another member of the 1975 team, also pointed to the administrative incompetence.
“Without any Government recognition, (Hockey India secretary-general Narinder) Batra and company are running the show at the mercy of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). So, the (HI) policy is totally in the hands of FIH.”
Aslam said the trend of ‘ad-hocism’ and the existence of two federations must end to put Indian hockey back on track.
“You have to set the house in order. Sacrifices have to be made.”
Joaquim Carvalho, a former India coach, also laid the blame at HI’s feet. “It is a blunder committed by the administration. When Nobbs had no credentials as a coach of any prominent team, why he was chosen over someone like Roelant Oltmans? Our closeness to Australian hockey and pay package were given as the reasons, but where do we stand now?”
Carvalho alleged that the best available talents were not selected and Nobbs never asserted himself in team selection.
Should India insist on a foreign coach?
“We need a technical advisor and an Indian coach who has good communication and man management skills. We need a good physical trainer to keep our players in top shape,” suggested Carvalho.
“At the end of the day, you have to come back to indigenous coaches. You may have a director as an expert, but you must develop the Indian coaches. They know our players well and can extract the best out of them. Just look at wrestling for example. Indian wrestlers are doing so well at the Olympics level,” said Aslam.
The other important area the former stars suggested was grooming of the youngsters.
“Very little work is being done to develop players at the grassroots. It should be taken care of,” said Aslam.
Ashok Kumar prescribed proper handling of junior players. “There is a huge gap between senior and junior levels. We just want to win tournaments and every department wants that by hook or crook.
“Unless we work on areas like power, stamina and accuracy at junior level, how can we improve the quality of the players? There should be a panel of competent Indian coaches who convey modern ways of teaching hockey to coaches at the block level.”
Harbinder Singh, a 1964 Olympics gold medallist who has worked as a government observer in the HI selection panel, was still optimistic. “The junior squad at present is talented. They have to take the spots of the seniors. They were given the exposure in some events, so that their performance does not go down when they graduate to the higher level,” said Harbinder.
Meanwhile, HI on Wednesday confirmed M.K. Kaushik’s appointment as coach of the Indian team. He will join the National camp, starting at the SAI centre in Bangalore from July 16, in the run-up to the Asia Cup next month. High Performance Director Oltmans will take Nobbs’s place till the appointment of a new chief coach.