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Terry Walsh: "Cultural barriers in India" (5/6/2008)
--K.Arumugam
Terry Walsh, the fearsome striker of Australian hockey in the 70s, discusses various aspects of Indian hockey with a freewheeling exclusive interview with the s2h. The former Malaysian and Netherlands’ coach is now Technical Director of United States Field Hockey Association. Under his guidance, their women reached the fifth position at the 2006 World Cup and now made it to the Beijing Olympics, winning the Kazan Olympic Qualifier last week. The interview was taken after India lost to the States at Kazan. Excerpts:

You know Indian hockey for long as a player and coach. What you have to say about them not in the Beijing Olympics line up?
It does not happen quickly. The players of the hockey world, coaches of the hockey world really think Indian hockey has enormous amount to offer to the world of our sports. It is a tragedy it’s not talked about in men’s game, women’s game. It is not just happened over a week but over a considerable period of time. Men’s game has been going down for long period of time. There were possibilities for solutions to the be found, but the Indians missed those. I think it is going to a continuous problem. There is no point keeping quite, but that exists. If it continues then there would no recovery. I think it is a drastic situation and it needs drastic change.

Is the FIH justified in supporting hockey through Promoting Indian Hockey Project, given the fact that India is around world no 7 or 8?
Well, you have to be aware that for rest of the world also such support is needed. FIH is placing enormous amount of energy and finance into an area which is specific. Why is it is not being done for others, ok well, it is a clear indication that there is more finance in India but you are a poor organization which they are trying to change.

Other than poor administration would you like to point out technical reasons behind India’s poor run that they did not even qualify for the Olympics?
I am not in a position to answer that question. I am not quite close enough to the system I think there are many attributes of Indian hockey that have to change to suit the modern game. I believe they need to have someone who understand to facilitate the change. I understand quite a lot about cultures around the world. I came to understand the intricacies of Indian cultures are not so a place there one can make constructive comments.

You were the first foreign coach for Malaysia. In what way Malaysia and India differ in this respect?
Working in a foreign country is a very difficult thing. You have to learn lot about their culture. There in Malaysia all sorts of puzzle coming in different cultures. You got Malays, Indians and Chinese. Such an array of cultures, it becomes one of the hardest places to work. Against this, there is some advantages in countries like India where that situation is not there. But equally they are cultural disadvantages as well. There is an incredible cultural background in India that everybody things that just by walking into pitch they are there to win. You cannot do that in sports. I spoke to Richard Charlesworth (He is in India as Technical Director) I understand that India cannot be successful they way they try to be successful.

It is generally seen foreign coaches deliver better world wide, and what is the secret behind?
That happens only when the culture has to accept them. Indian sub-culture does not accept that. Look at Asia. What are the sports they excel in on the world stage? Very few. I don’t think you can wipe out that fact when you answer this question.

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