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Why retaining foreign coach is necessary (11/10/2010)
--K. Arumugam
Why retaining foreign coach Brasa is necessary

Jose Brasa is the fist genuine foreign coach of India. He was appointed following at least some procedures. Others who got the tag are for the heck of it and for news.

Availing services of foreign coach has been a long standing aspirations of genuine promoters of hockey.

For variety of unsound reasons, India resisted import of coaching knowledge, despite its hockey fortunes plummeted from to one depth to other. Many ascribe this to mindset, but I feel it is vice like grip of vested interests. Of course this is beyond the scope of this write up.

Ultimately, when this country failed to even qualify for the Olympics, there was a huge public outcry for foreign coach. The Ad-hoc Committee of the Indian Olympic Association, that existed almost full one year from April 2008 before Hockey India was given birth by surrogacy, fulfilled the people’s aspiration by bringing in Jose Brasa.

We here don’t intend to weigh whether Brasa has delivered or not. The issue is not about a person or personality. The issue is larger, bigger and even complex.

In the early 2000s, The Netherlands coach Boost got into problem with players. The KNHB that controls hockey in that country, brought an Australian, Terry Walsh, as the chief coach to ward off the situation. Don’t you think a country like The Netherlands have to seek services of a foreigner when its own coaches are training teams all over the globe? Here lies a great lesson for everyone of us.

Here lies the reality of sports administration in the changing scenario where patriotism means bringing medals on big stages like Olympics and World Cup, and when victories are targets it hardly matters who coach the team who fund the training program and like niceties.

But victories do not come easily. Almost top ten countries are on same level in terms of resources, efforts and performance. The difference between couple of them becoming so invincible while others just look at them with awe must be studied. We have to look at this reality critically.

With regard to India, the resources are manifold compared to any other country. Money or men, no other country can match it. Still, India is nowhere in the top echelons, a classic case of amateur teams walking over professional teams of India.

One of the reasons for us not doing even half of our potential is the coaching not getting level playing field and then perceptional issues.

I am not the one to point a finger at the Indian coaches. Many former players who came to improve the performance level, in particular, put their best foot forward. You can neither fault at their competency nor efforts. Almost every former player came to coaching had to forgo better life which was at their asking at home. By being in camps almost nine months in a year they had to sacrifice many things. Just because they did not bring the results we cannot deny their toil.

Then why they could not provide results.

Because, they worked hard but accepted the system and within it. Secondly, their actions were always doubted, seeds of which were wantonly and willingly sown and spread by their own colleagues, who queue up to snatch the slot as quick as possible.

In India, the face of hockey is Federation but the real drivers are bureaucrats in the Sports Authority of India and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Both interfere in the technical matters through a façade called Selection Committee. This committee is curse of India, its members are rubber stamps of Federation and Bureaucrats.

Indian coaches know the system, and they hope to survive by trying to please all these three cogs that propel the system. They were in fact trying to do the impossible and expectedly failed. You cannot please all, if you do so, it will be at the peril of your self esteem and, significantly, at the cost of teams’ interests.

And importantly, they are coaches with the team or not, they have to live and die in the system and have to face the same set of people in every walk of life. They cannot be forthright and dashing in their moves and then hope to have a good life. This bogs them down, and we have to accept they are also human beings and have to live in their own country.

You take any coach, be it fighter coach KD Singh Babu (1972 Olympics), triple Olympic gold medalist RS Gentle (1976 Olympics) and the greatest theoreticians we had amongst us Balkrishen Singh (1984 and 1992 Olympics among others). Was any of them incompetent? Less devoted? Whey did all of them, like many who followed them, failed?

Because none of them could exercise discipline among players, could select team of their choice and had to face too many crooks interfering in their job, and almost in the whole run up to major tournaments they have to clear off doubts and biases created and nurtured by the vested interests, mainly their colleagues.

They never had the freedom to work, and they never complained about it till they were humiliated – on the turfs and then by the administrators.

The cycle has been repeated endlessly, without the public or policy makers taking a note of it.

Here only the question of why KNHB had to resort to neutral country for solving its domestic issue.

That is the lesson we have to understand. Read this with the Indian cricket which employs Karl Kirstern who brought the team to world no 1 in ranking. Can we say the cricket doen't have wisdom in not having an Indian coach. World over leading football teams have foreign coaches. Because foreign coaches are win win situation.

The other country’s coach will be focused. He will not bother about the minor and minute politics. His selection of players will be less doubted, normally acceptable because for him nothing will be at stake by selecting a player of other country or omitting. He will have nerves to question the system on the fond hope things will change. He will be at the end of day is accountable, as he is paid unlke Indian coaches who offer free service. Its only third person who can understand our weaknesses and strengths in a correct measure. He will not be carried away by emotion and undue attention, as natives normally tend to.

That’s why we need a foreign coach.

Retaining the services of Brasa is all the more important for good two valid reasons. Firstly, he was not given freedom, was unable to cope up with the system, and have not seen the real human resources of Indian hockey. Only early next year, he will have a chance to see National Championship and National Games. This will give him a measure of our human strength.

Secondly, if Brasa is sent out after the Asian Games, all the vested interests in India will claim foreign coaches are failure as if they were otherwise till now. If Brasa is not allowed to continue, the view that is going to get planted – foreign coaches cannot coach India – in the Indian psyche will be dangerous. It will put India hockey back on two decades. It will once for all close the doors of imported brains.

For the reasons stated above, Indian coaches can never give results because the have to essentially spend their energies on PR skills than on training the teams. Even their meaningful actions will be doubted of regional, religious and other biases.

That’s why I strongly advocate retention of Brasa. I don’t want the doors for foreign coaches closed once for all.

A foreign coach came to India due to public opinion. They can never be told a lie that foreign coaches are flops. Because exactly the same message will go to the people if Brasa's services are dispensed away now. We ought not fool our public or create a false impression. After all Indian public support hockey all the time, and we have to be honest to them.

Unfortunately due to dishonesty of people whom our public loves -- a section of former players - Indian hockey, lies survive while truths don’t.

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Retain Coach Jose Brasa
by Indian Hockey Fan on 11/11/2010 8:21:29 PM
Mr. Arumugam's article is a well written one supporting the retention of Coach Jose Brasa. It seems that he has a genuine passion for coaching the talented Indian hockey team even though he was humiliated by the hockey administration on various occasions. Under his guidance, within a short span of time, India won the gold at Azlan Shah Cup, silver at CWG and improved their position at World Cup. I strongly advocate Brasa's retention as India's coach.