The old old thing

There’s something seriously wrong with Indian hockey. I’m not talking about the squabbling in the Indian hockey association. It’s our team that bothers me. We’re starting to consistently stink up the place. I watched India get drubbed by Malaysia (4-1) just now and it’s a sickening feeling.

I think almost every Indian hockey lover remembers the golden days and wonders when we’ll reach the greatness that is our legacy. Not in a long, long time if we continue the way we are going. We’ve tried different Indian coaches, we’ve tried a foreign coach who rubbed people the wrong way (and wasn’t really a great coach anyway) and we still come up way short.

What we need is a coach who is a professional, who will make sure that India plays like a team, and who’ll pick the best players, and who’ll change the way we play. There is an absolute lack of creativity in the way India plays now-a-days. We rely on individual brilliance and there is no concept of a team.

We need to get a coach with proven success in the international field, who’ll teach the Indians how to adapt to the “new” style of hockey. If he charges a great deal, borrow some money from the BCCI and pay him. We can pay the BCCI back when we win some tournaments, and when the success comes so will the sponsors.

It’s such a joy to watch the Indians play when they are in full flow, but lately that’s been rare and it happens in spite of the coaches not because of them. There is talent in the country, but it’s how we use the talent and how we adapt to the “modern” game that will determine whether we’re bottom-dwellers or whether we’re back to the glory days.

Hockey is our national game, it’s time to reclaim it.

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8 thoughts on “The old old thing

  1. Who said hockey is our national game?
    I watched hockey when Dhanraj Pillai was at his best, leading our team against Pakistan. Remember all the brawls agaisnt Pakis? Yet, we won. The team spirit was a delight to watch. But somehow I feel that our men pulled up their socks only when they were given due attention [specially during the Pak tours].

  2. We had a good coach once. Cedric d’souza. Too bad he was taken away by the big guys who head Indian hockey. The coaching staff we have in india could do good things. given a chance. and if planning was done over a 8 year cycle. what is pathetic is the trapping, and off the ball running.. everyone is bred on the grass or rather grassless dry playing fields. when you come up and play on synth grass, the skills needed are just different. you might have vision, but unless you trap the ball properly, you’re not going to advance anywhere.. Guess we’ll have to get used to the team going nowhere(as depressing as this sounds), just as is the case with Indian football – where india was 3rd in the Olympics in the 50s.

  3. You know, I’d forgotten about Cedric D’Souza and you are right, they did do reasonably well under him. I am not sure that an Indian coach is the right person at this moment though. Maybe it is time to try one of those high-profile coaches. I think with our team (or group of players) there is a mental block now against Indian coaches and maybe that’s why they are not responding. Plus, we need to change the way we play, which still seems to be trapped in the 80s style.

    About playing on natural grass, I think that maybe 10 years ago we had that problem. Now we have more than a few stadia with the artificial turf and with the advent of the Premier Hockey League, there should be more. The problem is not one of trapping as much as it is off-the-ball running (like you said) and just the whole concept of team. We don’t have the team concept right now and that’s what’s causing the problem. The last team that did reasonably well (when we were beating the Pakis regularly with Jugraj the penalty corner expert) played like a team and that was their strength.

    The only reasons teams like New Zealand are doing well is that they play like a team. It’s like the Americans in football. Last time I checked the world rankings they were #10.

  4. Percy,
    I know hockey is our national game….what I tried to say is that its not getting the amount of attention it deserves. I started watching hockey in 1998-99, so no idea about the former players :)

  5. Okay :) (Me dumbo!). Yeah, hockey does not get the attention because there’s this other game that takes away all the attention even though we haven’t done anything of note in the last twenty plus years. Funny isn’t it? We win one world cup and people are so crazy about cricket, but with hockey we have such a great tradition (along with the Pakis) and not even a small percent of the same interest, revenues, or advertising.

    On a positive note, India did play well today though, they beat Malaysia for the fifth place, played really well in the second half. There is hope!

  6. Dumbo? Been a long time since I heard that word :) :))
    The media coverage Greg Chappell has been getting after being appointed coach is nowhere to that of Rajinder Singh jr. May be our hockey team should win gold in Olympics or play more matches against Pakistan where we win to get more attention.

  7. That’s precisely the point I was trying to make. Even if Saurav Ganguly scores a duck in England it makes the sports page. If Rahul Dravid becomes brand ambassador for Bank of Baroda, it makes the national news at 9.00 on NDTV. What do we know about our hockey players? Zilch. It ain’t fair, but that’s the way the world works.

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