Jan 15, 2011

The curious case on Indian Hockey Coaches

Every hockey fan always compares hockey to cricket. So when John Wright became coach of Indian cricket team in November 2000 and left in April 2005, he became one of the most successful coach of the Indian cricket team. Now back to hockey, when John Wright was in charge of Indian cricket team for a period of nearly 5 years, Indian men hockey team had 7 coaches to take the charge of national team (C.R Kumar and Jagbeer Singh were only there for short-term assignments).
If we look at the list of last 15 years, Indian hockey had nearly 20 coaches. And these coaches were hired and fired according to the will of top officials of IHF without even looking into the performance of these coaches. Well performance was one of the reasons of hiring and firing, but it was more of relation with the board. Let us look at past few coaches of Indian hockey and the circumstances in which they were fired or hired
Cedric D’souza (February 2001- March 2002) 
What would you say if a coach was fired during a tournament like world cup? That is what happened to former coach Cedric D’souza during 2002 World Cup. India was one of the favourites to win the World Cup, but early bad games led to the end of Cedric D’souza.  The federation could not even wait for the World Cup to finish and he was fired after in the middle of the tournament and his assistant was asked to take over for rest of the tournament.
Rajinder Singh Sr (April 2002-July 2004)
Well this is another bizarre sacking of Indian hockey coach. Rajinder Singh was sacked 27 days before the Olympic Games. Rajinder Singh’s tenure had been very eventful; he developed good relationship with the players (Dhanraj Pillay also had good words for the coach), produced good results (Asia Cup win in 2003) but then losing the support of KPS Gill which eventually led t his sacking. He used to take regular feedbacks from the players and also allowed them to play in their own style. Once a blue eyed boy of KPS Gill was fired 27 days before the Olympic Games which led to uproar in the hockey community. He was seen crying by the players during a flight back home from Germany when he learnt that he was being sacked by the IHF.

Gerhard Rach (August 2004-January 2005)

Gerhard Rach who spent 8 months in jail for fraud and tax evasion of 15 million Deutsche Mark and 30 criminal cases against him was the next coach of Indian national team and the worst coach IHF could find that time. A man who infamously said that Dhanraj Pillay and Baljit Singh Dhillon would retire after the Olympics as there was no place for stars in the team. Also he gave Dhanraj Pillay just 3 minutes in the India’s final match of the Olympic Games. Direct outburst against players like Dhanraj and Baljit along with string of poor results was enough to sack him and IHF did eventually sack him in January 2005.

Rajinder Singh Jr. (April 2005-March 2006)

Next coach under IHF was Rajinder Singh Jr, who has hired for Sultan Azlan Shah Tournament who played for India in 1982 Asian Games and 1984 Olympics. He did not have good tenure as Indian team lost all the 5 tournaments played under him. Indian team finished 5th in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, 7th in Mini World Cup and last in Champions trophy. IHF sacked him due to the poor performance but Rajinder Singh said that resigned from the post of Chief Coach due to the ‘dictatorship’ and ‘divide and rule’ policy of Jyothikumaran.  

Vasudevan Baskaran (April 2006- March2007)

In April 2006 V. Baskaran was hired as coach of Indian national team for the 4th time. It was not a luck 4th time for Baaskaran, as Indian team finished 5th in Doha Asian Games 2006. Baskaran removed the captain Viren Rasquinha from the team the eve before the team was going to depart for Asian Games.  Also star player Gagan Ajit Singh who was performing really well in Dutch Hockey League was not picked for the team. During his tenure as coach, it was first time when Indian hockey team did not medal in Asian Games and also lost to China 3-2. Baskaran and assistant coach Harendra Singh were asked to prepare a long term plan till 2010 but he was fired within two weeks of this.

Joaquim Carvalho (March 2007- March2008)
Next coach to take over under hire and fire policy of IHF was Joquian Carvalho, under whom Indian team won bronze medal in Sultan Azlan Shah Cup of 2007 and Gold in 2007 Asia Cup without the likes of Gagan Ajit Singh and Viren Rasquinha.  But Joaquim Carvalho will be more remembered as a coach who could not guide Indian team to the Olympic Games for the first time n 80 years of Olympic history. The blame of not qualifying for Olympics goes to Carvalho as he did not select best player on PHL 2008 Arjun Halappa and top scorer Sandeep Singh. Also when India’s lone penalty corner expert Diwakar Ram was injured, he was replaced by a forward instead of penalty corner expert. This in 11 months of his tenure he became the coach which led to infamy of hockey in India.
Jose Brasa (May 2009- November 2010)
The best coach of decade Spaniard Jose Brasa did wonders with the Indian team. After the debacle of Olympics, he picked the team up and helped Indian team to win Silver medal for the first time in Commonwealth Games and Bronze medal in Asian Games. In spite of giving results he was a victim of hockey politics that was played by the office bearers. Former coach Cedric D’souza along with Australian legend Ric Charlesworth and FIH president Leandro Negre came out in support of Jose Brasa and told the federation to renew his contract.
The story of Indian hockey has not been less than a masala movie where there has been highs and lows, love and hate between the players of the team, coach and the federation. Looking at the past coaches of Indian hockey, it seems difficult that the coaches in future will not go through all this humiliation and pain which these coaches have received in the past. Any coach who takes the job of Indian hockey should understand that being a coach is like standing in the fire.




1 comment:

  1. out of this article one easily can make out that Brasa performance as Coach was best among all coaches in last 2 decades..
    don't know y SAI not wanted to renew his contract ..