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.