Hurting hockey

Hurting hockey

Hurting hockey. In what can easily be termed as potential indices of the future stakes, particularly with regard to the team’s competent levels vis-a-vis the world hockey stage,

In what can easily be termed as potential indices of the future stakes, particularly with regard to the team’s competent levels vis-a-vis the world hockey stage, Indian men are embarking on a major tour of Europe with two back-to-back matches against France beginning on Tuesday.

More than the performances of the Sardar Singh-led boys during the defining moments, what will come for particular scrutiny will be positives (if any) from the possible changes in playing styles since the time Roelant Oltmans has taken over the twin role of coach and high performance team director.

The exposures in France and Spain are supposedly preparatory exercises ahead of the coveted Hockey World League (HWL) Final that India is hosting in November-December. It is a well established fact that India is going through turbulent periods, which have manifested because of the ill-conceived proposals initiated by the mandarins running the notoriously absurd Hockey India (HI).

The high-handed approach and cardinal sins of some administrative ‘pillars’ like Narinder Batra have been so coercive that the cricketing schemers can don a saint-like cloak around them with noticeable pride, comparatively speaking. There is no denying the fact that Indian hockey touched the pits a decade or so back and continues to remain there, the odd triumph here and there, notwithstanding.

The downslide is being scripted by the wisemen, who seem to have suddenly taken an obsessive fancy for rendering the absurd with every move. It is more so in the case of coaches where the notorious hire-and-fire policy has wreaked psychological havoc. Many foreign coaches have come and gone.

Having four coaches in five years is nothing short of blasphemy; yet Hockey India has not become any wiser from past disasters. With coaches and administrators being at constant loggerheads amid damning allegations of indiscipline against players and the on-field performances not exceeding the mediocre, there is not even the remotest possibility of breaking the Olympic medal jinx that dates back to Moscow 1980 edition.

After regaining the elusive Asian Games gold, the silver lining came when India became the first nation to qualify for Rio Olympics. Yet, the man who guided the team to the top spot, Terry Walsh, was fired rather unceremoniously and replaced by Paul van Ass, only to be sacked five months into the job. It has been ditto with Jose Brasa and Michael Nobbs, whose ousters still remain unsolved mysteries.

It becomes a pot-boiler when one considers the disharmony and element of distrust that prevails, a point duly pointed out by current skipper Sardar Singh, who has taken objection to the manner coaches are being changed.

Walsh is right in his contention that in India, hockey is run by people who know nothing about the sport. Indeed, off-the-field bloated egos and systematic on-field failures are hurting Indian hockey, which is still groping in the dark in its quest to relieve the magical days of yore, when everyone proudly eulogized the national sport.

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