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Media Watch: We are passionate but blind Hockey fa (12/14/2010)
--Shashank Gupta
We are passionate but blind Hockey fans

Who will coach Indian hockey? Its topical nowadays, as media churn out atleast an item on this every day.

This sparks some random thoughts

Here are the few former internationals that one reads in the leading newspapers giving their view or pitching in for the coaching post.

Joaquim Carvalho, Mir Ranjan Negi, Dhanraj Pillay, Ajit Pal Singh, B P Govinda, Ashish Ballal, AB Subbiah, Gurbux Singh, Zafar Iqbal and to top it all, recently one and only, Mohammad Shahid. They all are greats on the field in their times. By virtue of being former players, they all are very well qualified to comment on the performance of players.

However I tend to compare the scenario with cricket. A nation who loves nothing more than Cricket will agree that Kapil Dev, Mohinder Amarnath, Roger Binny, Madan Lal, Sunil Gavaskar, Vengsarkar or for that matter any player of 1980’s didn’t make a good coach or never claimed that they can be a coach. Sachin Tendulkar, a great player, was never a great captain. It’s about suitability.

However, hockey vastly differ from vibrant cricket.

Anyone who has got anything to do with Hockey feels that they can fill up the vacuum. Guess what names we are hearing:

Dhanraj Pillay: Tell me, apart from emotions, what facts do we have that he will be a great coach? Shouldn’t he prove his credentials before asking for the top notch position?

Mir Ranjan Negi’s: Great Hockey patron, but tell me which was the last team (in a high rated competition) he coached and succeeded? ..2002 CWG? 8 years are gone.. isn’t it?

Jude Felix: Great person and is promoting Hockey at grass root levels in Bangalore. Tell me, does working in Singapore, a country which is nowhere in World Hockey, qualify him as an Indian Coach? Joaquim Carvalho: Passionate Hockey follower, resigned after India failed to qualify in Olympics 2008. How has he increased his knowledge from then to claim that he can do the job better than ever?

Visibility in newspapers and what one achieved in Hockey a decade (or 2 or 3) back doesn’t qualify them for a coach.

Then we have big-mouthed KPS Gill.

KPS Gill says that coach should be for a 4 year term from one Olympics to another. Fine, agreed, but will you explain the procedure of selection of the coach and the fact that what were the credentials of people who selected him? Don’t tell me, this time as well, Ajitpal, Govinda and Zafar Iqbal will select the team members only to criticize the coach a few months later.

Gurbux Singh from the East claims under Brasa we didn’t do well, we lost to Australia 8-0 and to Malaysia. Sadly, he is unaware of the fact that leaving aside people who make it to Hockey news often every other person believes that Brasa transformed Indian Hockey in a positive direction.

Mir Ranjan Negi says that Brasa didn’t get the pulse of our players. The reports show otherwise. No player has said till now that he did badly for Indian Hockey. (What Rajpal said was between him and Brasa) The fans who followed Hockey before Brasa and during his tenure also believe opposite of what Negi Saheb has to say.

Mohammad Shahid says Dhanraj has played 4 Olympics and is the best person to be the coach. Is that the only criteria for coaching?

Arjun Halappa says Dhanraj can understand the requirement of Indian players the best. Tell me, understanding the requirement will suffice in catering to it? I believe what Halappa says but then can’t he be the best psychologist or manager the team can ever have?

Almost all Olympics sports are hiring high performance coaches from abroad and their improvement is visible even with closed eyes, but we here have KPS Gill – recently labeled as the pioneer of foreign coach idea - says foreign coach get involved with administrative matters and lose focus. The same Gill says, if he gets called for a meeting with Sports Ministry to sort out Hockey India and IHF, the matter can be sorted in 30m. My question is: Can you sort out the administrative mess for the foreign coach so that he is able to focus? Take more than 30m, I don’t mind that.

Then we have Batra, who says Brasa doesn’t have penalty corner skills and Jugraj Singh had to be called upon to give PC training to the team. Tell me one thing, is a chief coach supposed to know penalty corner skills?

Scientific Hockey, technology, video analysis are things we don’t worry about. Dhanraj Pillay says that we should only play 30% European Hockey. I want to know the basis of 30% calculation? We are Hockey fans who have no option but to believe what we are being fed with. We see a hero in Dhanraj Pillay, Jude Felix, Mir Ranjan Negi but fail to realize that every hero doesn’t qualify for being a coach. Very soon we will be fed with Indian Coach who was a hero in his playing years and we being blind Hockey fans will have to resort to the optimism that the coach has been a great patriot and will not do anything bad for Hockey.

My question remains the same: Does a Coach who is a great patriot with pure intentions have the skills for being a great coach?

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Agreed! Bring back Brasa!
by Bala Bkrishnamurti on 12/15/2010 9:51:41 PM
Come on hockey establishment. For once, Indian Hockey was headed down the right path, we started winning tournaments, started beating top teams (OK, not the Australia's of the world, but the nexy best teams- like England, New Zealand, Pakistan etc) Who do you think brought us to this level? If you answered KPS Gill, Vidya Stokes, or Narinder Batra-WRONG! It was Brasa all the way. Stop tring to find little faults with him. He is a head coach. He improved so many things wrong with Indian Hockey- in such a short time-that itself was close to a miracle. Without video analysis equipment (initially), without a sports psychologist, without GPS on players to monitor who runs how much, in how much time and where the effort needs to be expended etc. All these are the more modern methods of training-that this great hockey playing nation's team needed urgently. He fought the establishment time and again to get them implemented. Kudos to Brasa. A pity he is the latest casualty of the hockey establishments myopic policies. Bring him back still- while we have time. Rajpal will be fine- a little griping on his personal relationship with Brasa is really no consideration.