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India is now building a terrific team: Charlesworth

Charlesworth with Narinder Batra.

Charlesworth with Narinder Batra.  

The legendary Australian feels that the future of the sport lies in the future of Indian hockey

He was among the first high-profile foreign names to be associated with Indian hockey and even though Ric Charlesworth left on a bitter note, his association with the country and its hockey seems unbreakable. The former Australian coach believes the current Indian team is on par with the best in the world.

In the country to develop a high-level hockey academy in Chandigarh as consultant with Round Glass Sports, which has a football programme and is a part owner of I-League club Punjab FC, Charlesworth, in an exclusive interaction with The Hindu insisted that the biggest change in the Indian players was at a psychological level.

“I think the future of hockey is intimately involved with the future of Indian hockey and so I want to see India do well. There was a period when we couldn’t beat you and then there was a period when you couldn’t beat us. Now I think there is parity and that’s good for the competition,” he said.

The catalyst

“When I was here 10 years ago, I believed it was a 10-year job for India to climb back to the top. More than anything else, I think the Hockey India League (HIL) was the catalyst. It brought international players here, the locals played with and against them, and realised that the international players only had two arms and two legs just like everyone else. Psychologically, it was an important barrier to be broken for India,” he added.

Asked about the one thing that has changed in Indian hockey, Charlesworth said it was belief. “You were always technically good and physically too. I think it’s the psychological shift that has occurred which has been the crucial thing. There is more belief and they understand that they can compete at that level. India has always had fantastic players, now they are building a terrific team. I have seen that happen with your cricket teams too,” he said.

Australian influence

He added that the Australian influence on Indian hockey was part of knowledge-exchange that happens everywhere. “I think you learn from everybody, you take resources and get contributions. We did that, taking knowledge from people who left India after partition. All our coaches were from the sub-continent, perhaps you are simply seeing the reverse of it now,” he said.

Asked his prediction for the Tokyo Olympics, Charlesworth was non-committal. “For me, the ideal game would be an Australia-India final. I think both are capable of winning a medal but the Olympics can be capricious. When it will happen is a question now, so let’s see what happens,” he said.

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Printable version | Jul 9, 2020 12:09:29 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/india-is-now-building-a-terrific-team-charlesworth/article31016934.ece

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