Former Olympians today said in unison that if foreign coaches are roped in for every discipline, they should also be entrusted with the responsibility of nurturing the aspiring coaches in our country.
Participants at a debate on ‘Getting ready for Olympics 2012. Indian or foreign coaches?’ moderated by former hockey skipper Viren Rasquinha at the India International Sports Summit organised by Transtadia, also felt that former players should get better incentives to take up coaching.
Badminton coach Pullela Gopichand, who gave a key-note address on the issue, was in favour of hiring foreign coaches, but said they should work in sync with local coaches.
Recalling his playing days, he said it was due to a Chinese coach (under whom he trained for two years) that training methods underwent a sea change in the country.
“We need a foreign coach because they have gone through the system of producing top players and they know the requirements of top players.
“Some of our own players have better credentials as players than coaches. Many of our sportspersons don’t take up coaching and there is a lot of talent drain because the government does not give them incentives. The government is ready to pay foreigners but not to coaches from India,” he said.
“We need good coaches, both Indian and foreigners. If we get a combination of the two it would be great. It happened in badminton, where there are two Indonesian coaches, and we have been producing some fantastic results in the past few years,” Gopi added.
The former All-England Badminton Open winner stated while the administrators too played an important role, foreign coaches were above their influence, and thus less likely to succumb to their wishes.
“There are some who tend to influence selections, influence coaches; with foreign coaches these things can be eliminated,” he added.
Former Pakistan coach Wasim Akram too supported the idea of having foreign coaches, saying that they bring in fresh ideas and were less likely to indulge in the local politics.
“I preferred foreign coaches when I captained Pakistan for about 7-8 years.. done that about 10 times. They bring in fresh ideas, besides they have no agenda.”
“Coaching needs a different skill, great players need not necessarily be great coaches,” he added.
The former left-arm pacer, also known as the ‘Sultan of swing’, however said the foreign coaches should try to understand the local culture to gell well with his wards.
“Foreign coaches tend to bring in their own team which is fine. But after six in the evening, they sit together with a drink (with their group). The boys feel they have a gang and are disappointed. They need to understand that the players need them and look up to them as a father figure. They need to understand the local culture. That’s where they struggle.”
Working president of the Athletics Federation of India (AFI) Adille Sumariwalla said that whatever good results Indian athletes had was due to the presence of overseas coaches.
“We have failed to produce good Indian coaches for financial reasons. They have the passion but they have to support families. Whatever results we have produced is due to them (foreigners). At least we (AFI) can’t do without them,” he said.
Foreign coaches also bring the much-needed discipline and pragmatic approach, he added.
Sumariwalla said the AFI did try to attach Indian coaches to their overseas counterparts, but without much success.
“Language is a barrier but also the inclination to learn is not there among Indian coaches,” he added.
Former hockey skipper Dhanraj Pillay said Indian coaches too were capable enough, but conceded that foreign coaches were needed to train them.
“We need to train our Indian coaches. Their training methods are not upto the mark,” he said.
The four-time Olympian said that foreign coaches too could indulge in favouritism.
“They should be passionate about their work. They should pick up the best players. I support Indian coaches but they must be clean,” he added.