Hockey India (HI) on Tuesday came to a firm conclusion that India's hockey woes could be solved only with foreign assistance.

At a meeting held here to review India's disastrous performance in the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh (Malaysia), where it finished sixth among seven countries, HI appointed a five-member committee to submit a report within 15 days to identify a foreign coach.

The committee comprises Olympians Col. Balbir Singh, Pargat Singh, Jagbir Singh, A.B. Subaiah and S.S. Grewal.

Open discussion

The coaching and development committee had a frank and open discussion with the coaches and the support staff of the current Indian team. HI Secretary Narinder Batra said, “We will be meeting the players too to gain their opinion.”

Mr. Batra said on the recommendations of the support staff they had taken a few decisions like providing proper kit to the players like shoes to suit astro-turf and goalkeepers' gear.

“We were told some players did not have proper shoes for playing on astro-turf. From now, every player involved will be given shoes and the top six goalkeepers will be provided with the best playing kit.”

Following complaints from players, the HI in future would grant Rs 100 per day per player as washing allowance.

“We were told the players were washing their training clothes daily. They will be spared this ordeal at all future camps,” assured Mr. Batra.

He accepted that the unpleasant experiences that Ric Charlesworth and Jose Brasa faced had not done any good to India's image among the international coaching fraternity.

Open to discussions

“But it is not an entirely correct image. We are open to all forms of discussions for a foreign coach. He can come as an advisor or as full-time coach. But he will have to be the best and, if need be, we will raise the money to meet the requirement. Ideally, the coach will have to be appointed from Olympics to Olympics,” he said.

On India's present standards, Mr. Batra confessed, “We are below the Asian level and it is a matter of concern. No one is satisfied with what happened at Azlan Shah. Fitness is an issue, but agility and tactics are also part of the game. I will take the blame for the poor show at Ipoh.”

Mr. Batra expressed concern that the Indian team did not have a proper doctor. “Dr. B.K. Nayak is the best man for the job. But I do not know why he is not being released by the Army.”

HI, added Mr. Batra, would soon take steps to provide the Indian team with a psychologist and a yoga instructor. “These are a must and we agree to the demands from the team on this front.”

Suggestions were also made to explore the possibility of players attending motivational lectures by various experts.

Mr. Batra was of the view that future hockey camps should be held in Pune or Bangalore. “Delhi is not suited for holding camps,” he said. For women, HI has identified Patiala as the best venue.

Keywords: Hockey India

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