high hopes

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 25 Jun 2018 12:19:09

THE Indian hockey team has begun its Champions Trophy campaign in right earnest by mauling arch rivals Pakistan 4-0 in the lung opener. The team is hoping to write a new chapter by winning the Champions Trophy this time. After the Commonwealth Games disaster, where the Indian team finished fourth, this seems to be a dream that will not be easy to realise in the presence of champion teams like Argentina and Australia. However, the emphatic win against Pakistan has certainly kindled hopes about India’s chances this time around. 

However, frequent changes in the national coaches in recent years certainly gives the impression of the Indian team being perpetually in a unsettled mode. After High Performance Director and national coach Roelant Oltmans was sacked Sjoerd Marijne was given the charge of the team as the coach of the national team. But his short tenure as the national coach ended in disaster with a poor show in the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia. As has been the pattern, soon he was replaced by Harendra Singh for his fourth stint as the national coach. He has began his new stint with a bang with a comprehensive win over arch rival Pakistan on Saturday.

While the Championship opener gave a promising news, it is necessary that the momentum is maintained till the end, match after match, if the dream of lifting the Champions Trophy is to be realised. Is this a tall order to expect? Given the not so consistent a performance by the Indian team in various international tournaments over the years, there is much distance the team has to travel before it puts up any meaningful challenge to the likes of Australia or Argentina. The Indian team has been performing in patches and lacks required consistency a champion team is expected to achieve over long durations.

It is not that there is complete absence of hockey culture in the country or that the game has lost its fascination with the masses. There are large parts of the country where hockey is passionately played from where talent keeps on emerging. Unfortunately, however, that is not translating into the country regaining its top position in international hockey. The apex body of the game has to think about this situation and come up with workable plans to spot and groom new talent. It also needs to think about its penchant for changing the training and coaching staff every now and then.

That has a destabilising effect on the team. The game’s promotion has suffered heavily during the nearly ten-year KPS Gill regime as the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was embroiled in politicking. It is necessary to come out of that bad phase of the game to regain Indian hockey’s top standing at international level.