The “bankruptcy” in the country’s hockey coaching wealth stood exposed with the proposed appointment of M.K. Kaushik to assist the national team till the Rio Olympics in 2016. Kaushik will join the team of chief coach Michael Nobbs and High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans.
Hockey India on Saturday narrowed down on Kaushik after discussing a few options. “We have proposed his name. It has to be approved by the Sports Authority of India. If SAI clears his name then Kaushik will be with the team till the next Olympics,” said HI Secretary General N.K. Batra.
It may be recalled Kaushik was the women’s hockey coach and was removed from his job following allegations of sexual harassment made by some members of the team. He was subsequently absolved of the charges following an enquiry by the Sports Ministry.
Expressing surprise at Kaushik’s appointment, a noted Olympian said, “I have mixed feelings. It is good to have an Indian coach but it may also be seen as a backward step. It means we don’t have a pool to pick the coach from. Some may call it bankruptcy but then we don’t have a system to groom coaches.”
According to HI, it was “best” to nominate Kaushik since he had retired from his job with the Haryana government. “He can now concentrate fully and that is what we want. Kaushik has the desired credentials to work with the team in these difficult times,” said Batra. Ironically, same set of HI officials were responsible for axing Kaushik three years ago.
HI sources conceded the pressure would be on Nobbs, who has performed below expectations as the chief coach of the team. “The team has failed repeatedly. The results are not coming. I think Kaushik’s appointment should be seen as a strong message to Nobbs,” asserted a former international.
Said an Olympian, “I am amazed at how poor the Indians are in passing, trapping, positioning and execution; these are basics. I would also like to know what role does the support staff play? Are they qualified? The players should have a say in this area.”
Kaushik’s presence in the team was likely to create confusion, insisted a former Olympian. “You have three minds working in three different directions. Nobbs and Oltmans have little in common and now Kaushik will add his brand of coaching. I hope it doesn’t leave the players confused. There is much to modern hockey and sadly we are lagging in most of the departments,” said the Olympian.
In the qualification race for the World Cup, India faces a tough task. “It is difficult but not impossible. I thought we had a good chance (at Rotterdam). The team has hard time ahead but India has the potential to make it,” observed former India captain Zafar Iqbal.
India ended up sixth in the eight-team FIH World League Round 3 at Rotterdam, winning against France, drawing against Ireland and New Zealand and losing to Australia, The Netherlands and Spain.
The team faces the arduous task of winning the Asia Cup to be held in Malaysia in August to be able to find a berth at the next World Cup. Zafar welcomed the appointment of Kaushik.
“It is the right move in the right direction. HI will also have to specify his role in the team. I expect him to do well if not wonders. But I know under the circumstances Kaushik will be very effective. Discipline is his strong point and communicates well. I am sure the players will be happy with Kaushik around,” said Zafar.