"My job is to coach the Indian hockey team. The politics I leave to others. I also feel the players are only interested in playing hockey. If we can achieve results, everybody will be happy": Michael Nobbs


Sep 30

Written by: Sundeep Misra
Friday, September 30, 2011 


Indian hockey is the purest form of an accident waiting to happen. After Ordos, one thought the clouds had cleared. The sun was out bright and shining. The players smiled while the new coach huddled his flock telling them stories of bigger battles to come. Now less than a month after the players had mounted the podium in Ordos, systems are breaking through the middle ready to dismantle all the good work done in the past months.

Two indiscplined players are back, though one feels if they have learnt their lesson, it’s fantastic for the team; Chairman of the Technical Committee Pargat Singh has also reportedly put in his papers and doesn’t want to deal with Hockey India again; Harendra Singh sacked as senior Indian coach after the Azlan Shah is back as the India junior coach while the federation so zealously backed by the FIH is being run by Narinder Batra like a fiefdom.

Nothing changes in hockey except the guard; A little of glimmer of sunlight and then dark clouds. There are reports that former Indian goalkeeper Baljit Singh who partially lost his eyesight might be brought back as goalkeeping coach. Someone somewhere has read a lot of history and is using the tried and tested British theory of ‘Divide and Rule’ pretty successfully.

What they don’t realize is that ego satisfaction is normally a short-cut that destroys everything in the long run. And at this moment of time, Hockey India officials are pandering to their bloated egos.

The damage could be multiple – Michael Nobbs might throw in the towel. And he may not either if HI has some sense remaining and gives him a free hand. Nobbs was brought in by Pargat and had so far protected him from vested interests who never want a foreign coach in the country. Nobbs was kept away from such elements and told to just concentrate on the job. In private conversations, Nobbs had hinted that he has never seen so much politics in any sport. The normal answer that Nobbs got was always – welcome to Indian hockey.

But it is a matter of concern that Nobbs surrounded by assistant coaches who don’t have the single-mindedness of the Australian but would rather cozy up to the powers so that their designations and stamping of visa continues on their passports. These are the coaches who would completely dismantle the process and Nobbs wouldn’t even know when they play him like a guitar.

Nobbs is a typical Aussie coach whose entire physical and mental state is geared towards giving India a fillip and a place back in the top four. Forget continuing up till 2016, Nobbs would be lucky if he survives 2011 and the half of 2012. If the team makes it to London, Nobbs has a chance of continuing in 2012 till the hyenas come after him. But it is not about performance. If Nobbs has to constantly look over his shoulder as to who is digging his grave, then the job gets tougher for the Aussie. You might even see the Indian junior coach Harendra Singh getting the senior coach job again; Indian hockey is a roller-coaster ride.

Rajpal’s removal as captain was imminent. Not because he spoke against the federation or wanted more money for the players after their win in Ordos as some newspaper reports suggest. But in Ordos, he blatantly disregarded orders from the coach. Tactical plans were broken and even Nobbs had a couple of sessions with him in trying to make him understand that a captain does not necessarily start in a match and that a team plays towards a strategy that has been evolved in the team meeting and not on the pitch.

Mukesh Kumar joining the senior team is good news but it also shows the bankruptcy of the federation in their planning – if Mukesh couldn’t be junior coach, make him the senior coach under Nobbs. Why wasn’t this done earlier? Why do this when a player walks off in a huff and in this case Mukesh was right as Harendra was foisted over and above him?

It’s going to be ‘divide and rule’ for some time. Maybe, forever.



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4 comment(s) so far...

Re: Hockey India back to 'Divide and Rule' policy

What is the solution for all this mess? How difficult it is to set up a hockey body that lives and promotes India hockey? All hockey fans in the country should unite and raise a banner of revolt against people who harm the cause. It is the right time. Let is start from state associations.

By Kishor on   Saturday, October 01, 2011

Re: Hockey India back to 'Divide and Rule' policy

Nobody here cares about the game HI and IHF both are same, to much politics in this game. Hockey comes in news always for wrong reasons.They use players and coaches for 'Divide and Rule' policy. Players and coaches becomes the victims.There is no live coverage of hockey matches, not even tournaments like Azlan Shah Cup or Asian Champion Trophy for cricket you can watch Test match for 5 days but they don't cover a hockey match of 70 minutes.The bosses don't care and fans are switching to the other games.They just stick to their chairs.

By Raj on   Saturday, October 01, 2011

Re: Hockey India back to 'Divide and Rule' policy

Rajpal's behaviour is worrying. If he blatantly disregards the coaches instructions, it will be detrimental to the team spirit and performance and will most certainly scupper any chances we may have of qualifying for the Olympics. It is very important that someone from HI or IHF explain this aspect of discipline to him.
I hope Nobbs has the courage and conviction to pick a team who will follow his strategy without any questions and the mandarins of HI and the selection committee do not resort to the age old habit of foisting their " choices " on him.
Discipline has multiple aspects, listening to the coach and following a strategy as laid down by him is one of them.

By Nikhilesh Roy on   Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Re: Hockey India back to 'Divide and Rule' policy

It will be a good idea to privatise hockey. For that matter, privatise most sports barring those that need state assistance. Cricket is a classic ase of corporate involvement. Get into a 80-20 partnership with the government; that's all.

Give hockey to a corporate house and let them manage it professionally. Obviously, despite everything, we still win tournaments and are not a bad team at all. So, with a little push, we can again be world beaters.

Look how privatisation changed India in the last 20 years. Before that, even to get a landline or a scooter one had to pay a bribe. Now we are free of all that. Even a starving Indian can make a phone call for a pizza! (I hope you see the irony here).

Until most sections of India are privatised, barring, of course, those that are a security risk or make low profits, india will continue to languish in the comity of nations.

Indian hockey is no exception. It is only a symptom of a larger disease.

Jai Hind!



By rajendar menen on   Wednesday, October 05, 2011

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