Terry Walsh loves the way Indians play hockey, but is frustrated by their lack of application. He accepts they are skilful, but wonders how they can be so “careless”. A couple of weeks into his new job, the new chief coach of the men’s national team is trying to come to terms with the contradictions here.
Walsh, who replaces compatriot Michael Nobbs, has already identified the immediate areas of concern. “The Indian players have skills and they are very flexible and agile. Unfortunately, they are also very careless. They don’t think about spraying the ball over to relieve pressure.
“It is very frustrating for me, coming from Australia, where players play with a lot of open space and creativity without getting careless,” he explained on the sidelines of the closed bid for the Hockey India League on Friday.
The 59-year-old is also not satisfied with the team’s fitness levels.
“India is not yet in the top-four level at the moment. There is no quick fix; there has to be some way to harden the bodies. You need at least 18 months of playing time, and also a strengthening programme, not to get injured,” he added.
Walsh also insisted he has learnt how to survive in India. “It’s about flexibility. If you come to India without flexibility, you will stagnate. You also need to have patience because it takes time to change things here. It’s not an instant thing, which is what some of the people who worked here before expected.”
Walsh, who was with the US women’s team before coming to India, feels Indian players lack tactical thinking.
“They hold the ball too long in search of that perfect pass, the most accurate shot, the perfectly positioned partner, when it is not needed.” he said.
However, having seen India play at the Asia Cup recently, Walsh felt the present generation was on the right path of playing a tactical game to outwit the opposition.
“It is important to understand the correct concepts of training and put the right processes in place. Once that is done, the results will come gradually, but I think we are moving in the right direction,” he said.