In just over two months, national men’s hockey coach Terry Walsh has realised the extent of difficulties he’s up against in India. And the Australian is blunt in his criticism of the entire system.
“The biggest issue is the decision making process. In successful countries, people who head high performance units make the decisions because they are the most qualified. That doesn’t happen in India. Here, the decisions are made by ministries, federations, government,” Walsh said on Friday, after the team’s training session on ahead of the Hockey World league Final.
Walsh agreed that Indian players have the skill but went on to add that skills played just one small part. “The national team is the head and you can’t fix only the head and expect things to get better in the long term. If you target the top without working on the bottom, the structure will crumble.
“The decision making process is the key. That’s why Roelant (Oltmans) is here, I am here. But there is no point in bringing people from all over and then tie them up saying you can’t decide anything,” Walsh added.
The chief coach admitted he had been warned against being too critical. “People tell me you will disappear if you talk of these things but that’s the reality! If you don’t fix them and put your head in sand, then another year or decade will pass and there will be no difference.” Talking about the upcoming tournament, Walsh admitted there were a lot of shortcomings. “Our scoring is poor and inefficient. Our ability to tackle as a unit and understand the nuances of the game is poor. When to take risks or play safe, when to play fast or slow down the game — these are things we are not good at.
“It’s about changing the mindset and educate them on how to think about the game. It’s a pattern behaviour we trying to alter and history tells me it will take at least one to three years.”