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Opinion: Hockey Selectors need to change (2/13/2010)
--Deepak Sheth
Expert Opinion: Hockey Selectors need to change

Just because you played the game that does not mean you know how to select. Selector is really a scout and a good scout is one who, not only understands the modern game but also how to build a team and what is in the best interest of the team & how will they gel together. So the best selector is the head coach. This point needs to be debated, what with the controversy of who should be Indian captain?

Previous coaches like Vasudevan Baskaran and Joaquim Carvalho have been virtual selectors, in fact some of them even have called for the resignation of selectors. I belong to this group but not because of the reasons given.

Rajpal may have lost the players trust but that may be due to a lack of understanding on their part. He took a decision to resume practice even if the demands of the team were not met. He was not a belligerent leader but calm and cool, exactly what was expected of a captain. Can belligerence not be a negative factor in a captain? Then what about the point of leading by example, dedication, consistency and hard work?

You can debate the point (of the selectors) about maintaining continuity but there is no question there is value in it. Yet does the coach not know what is best for his team? Were these points vigorously debated between the Indian coaches & the selectors? Is there something that we do not know about the internal debates in the team? Why are Hockey India administrators talking up a storm, when the selectors aside from the two government appointed ones & the one who was missing away in Dhaka, are speaking, yet not the rest of them. Why is the minister of sports talking about this topic, giving fodder to the conspiracy theory that the Govt & these two Govt selectors are responsible for this mess.

There is no question that Coach Brasa has done an outstanding job. He has come in with new concepts of all rounders, man to man marking, teaching a new culture to Indian Hockey. He has looked after the players well with having a personal trainer, looking after each individual player’s nutritional needs & fitness requirements to stay in optimal shape. Team meetings have been introduced where free flowing discussions occur, where players express themselves. Indeed all you have to do is watch our current team to see that this is a different team unlike all others we have witnessed. They play modern, pleasing hockey as it should be played, showcasing skills, fluidity & understanding. They may not bring the desired results but they are sure pleasing to watch and do entertain.

It is ludicrous to expect the team to win a final four spot. The best you should expect them to do is climb up the rankings. Arjun Halappa, Prabhjot singh, Vikram Pillay, Tushar Khandkar and Adrian D'Souza have been playing for India for a long time. I would like to remind you that with the same core players, we had two big blots on our hockey history missing a Olympic event and then losing top four spot in Asia.

It is a testament to Brasa’s training and his ability as a coach that he has been able “to teach old dogs new tricks”, and get them to play good hockey. But that is as far as it will go. You cannot compare them to Jamie Dwyer, Santi Freixa, Cristopher Zeller, Gus Vogels, who are in the top four countries in the world.

Now the absolutely brilliant, Sardar Singh or the steady Dhananjay Mahadik or the markedly improved Bharat Chikara, or the potential of Diwakar Ram, is a different matter. With these four, may be some others, there is a possibility of further mileage, yet they may never reach the class of the above mentioned.

The best scouts in India amongst known entities are Coach Joaquim Carvalho, responsible for seeing the potential of Chikara, Sardara Singh and S V Sunil. I would like to add the name of Chennai based, Olympian Muneer Sait, who I saw at every game in the Mumbai Gold Cup. Folks, that is dedication. He was making notes on every good player. We do not know too much about the newer selectors Madhu Yadav and Sita Mehta. Yet we all know that at least Ajit Pal Singh and Zafar Iqbal, have been selectors for a long time without doing anything worthwhile. Plus there is a certainly a possibility that their knowledge is outdated, so is their judgement, plus their track record is decidedly poor.

Most of these erstwhile players see very few games and this habit of selecting a team from a two-day tryout (In India it is called trials) needs to be done away with. What happens if a player has an off day or has a stomach upset and cannot attend the trial. Or he is away playing in a European club & is setting that league on fire. Does he get eliminated?

The only reasonable way to do this is to have the current head coach as the main selector, one of his nominee, and former coaches(because of their previous stint with the same players), as selectors.

Each selector should have a dossier on each player. He/she should have seen as many games as possible, live, if not at least on video. Each should make voluminous individual notes. In the team selection meeting, the chief coach makes a pitch as to what players he needs and his reasons & his team concepts & philosophy.

The selectors can debate the selections & offer constructive criticism or advice. But the chief coach has final veto power & any recommendation of the selector board, would not be binding on the coach.

So the best selection committee for India should be Jose Brasa, chief selector, Harendra Singh (coach), MK Kaushik(current Womens Coach), Joaquim Carvalho, Rajinder Sr, Rajinder Singh Jr, and V. Baskaran, (former coaches)and may be Muneer Sait and any govt observer with no voting power.

Note: These are personal opinion of the writer

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yes hockey selectors need to change
by Prof. Randhawa on 2/14/2010 9:28:11 PM
i do aggre with your personal opinion .