Shackled in the vortex of contradictions and contortions, the crisis mode is back for hockey administration. The desperate search for a foreign coach, with the Olympic qualifying event less than a year away, is symptomatic of the lethargy that is inherent in the governance of the sport.
There is as yet no logical explanation why the affable Spaniard Jose Brasa was shown the door. The look out for foreign assistance now is laughable.
The silver medal in the CWG and the bronze at the Asian Games, not to speak of the sequence of victories against Pakistan in 2010, reflect Brasa's work. He achieved them despite the conscious hurdles strewn in his path. Aberrations there might have been, but Brasa's contribution was not insignificant to signal the end to his contract.
Why are foreign coaches are subject to harassment here? Ric Charlesworth, inarguably the best coach in the world, had a harrowing time. He quit even before he could begin. Brasa lived like a prisoner. He was not even allowed to appear for the post match conferences. He had no voice in the selection.
On the treatment of foreign coaches, India has to learn a lesson from Pakistan. The conditions are similar there too, with a section constantly opposing the induction of foreign coaches.
But Pakistan has hired three so far— Hans Jorritsma, Roelant Oltmans and Michel van den Heuvel— from the Netherlands. Two of them have proved successful; Jorritsma guiding Pakistan to the World Cup triumph in 1994 and Heuvel paving the way for the gold in the Asian Games at Guangzhou.
If the Indian mind-set is against hiring a foreigner, the option then lies in identifying former player-turned coaches exposed to modern techniques.
Quite a few had expressed their desire to work with the national team. But the administration turned down their offers. Even an academician like Cedric D'Souza could not be accommodated for long.
Now there is a bid from Singapore-based Jude Felix. A former Olympian and captain, he is ready to take up coaching on reasonable terms.
Felix has vast experience as a player-cum-coach in England and France. He is confident of improving the system. He feels his association with Indian hockey for decades and the training received in Europe will help him get into the groove.
Since options are limited, the committee needs to persuade Brasa to come for the sake of continuity. More than once, Paul Lissek's overtures have been rebuffed. Currently, he is the technical advisor to Hockey Australia, working closely with Ric Charlesworth. His contract is said to be up to the London Olympics.
If Brasa is unable to come back for one reason or the other then Pargat Singh's committee is urged to examine the credentials of Felix whose comprehension of local conditions and challenges facing the country makes him a candidate worthy of consideration.
Keywords: hockey India