Would an Indian coach have been better than a foreign coach? Well, the advancement that our men’s hockey team displayed over the last year was mostly through foreign hands and even flourished well. A historic moment as India won the Asian Games after 16 years qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics is reason enough to celebrate Indian hockey. Our national sport, which truly regained its image after a long time proved that there is always hope for improvement and where there is a will there is success. The Indian national hockey team after they beat world champions Australia in Test series has been unstoppable.
After Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh as their coach, the team looks forward to coach Paul van Ass as Hockey India chose the 54-year-old Dutch to take up the job of coaching the national men’s hockey team. Improvement in the players and team, good results and qualifying for Olympics along with coach controversies kept Indian hockey in the news. Now, with a talented squad and the Rio Olympics ahead, Team India’s performance under a new foreign coach (despite Nobbs suggesting for an Indian coach) is yet to be seen.
One of the best coaches
Hockey India and Sports Authority of India have finally chosen what can be the best for Indian hockey – new chief coach – Paul van Ass, after Terry Walsh’s controversial exit. A forthright and controversial coach, Paul van Ass led the Holland team to win silver medals at the London Olympics as well as the World Cup. Van Ass, former Holland coach, was released from duty last year after his contract ended. The contract is signed till 2018 World Cup. Considered one of the best coaches, it is yet to be seen how he impacts the Indian hockey team. On the positive side, he is lucky to have had an already enthusiastic, young and successful team yet he has a challenge as he will prepare the squad for 2016 Rio Olympics. The committee had three names on their list for the role of national men’s hockey team coach – Paul Van Ass, Alexander Grey (Australia) and Hans Streeder (Netherlands).
The women’s team coach has been chosen too. Coach Thornton has worked with Australia’s under-21 men’s team as the head coach and has been working with the New South Wales Institute of Sports in Australia for four years.
Van Ass’s challenges – Rio Olympics & Hockey World Cup 2018
Paul van Ass, the new coach of Team India has had his best and lows in his career. Success along with controversies plagued him too. Year 2010 saw the appointment of Van Ass as the Holland coach ahead of Marc Lammers. Many questions were raised as the Dutch man did not have a coaching certificate and had no international experience. Being considered with such conditions, the decision was criticized. There was another instance when Van Ass axed two senior-most Dutch hockey players, Taeke Taekema and Teun de Noojier, as the coach considered them to be unfit. After a lot of controversy and public outrage, the two players were re-instated into the team but Van Ass left them out again from the Olympic squad. Besides all this, former Dutch national coach Van Ass’s four-year career has fetched him laurels too, in the form of London Olympics final and World Cup. As per reports, India will host the 2018 men’s Hockey World Cup. So, as of now, Van Ass has enough to foucs on – the Rio Olympics being the priority.
According to former Team Hockey coach Michael Nobbs who coached from June 2011 to July 2013, it is indeed time to bring an Indian coach for the determined, young and experienced boys. Especially, with the Rio Olympics ahead, a home-based coach could prove to be functional. Nobb, while on a trip to India on behalf of Australian corporation Grassman, asserted that an Indian coach should be given the opportunity. A young coach for the young players will allow the players to have a good reputation with the coach. Nobbs also emphasized that Hockey India is doing an incredible work. He also said that after all it’s the players who are the masters of the game. Not only the suggestion, Nobbs also has probable names for the job, namely, M K Kaushik, Cedric d’Souza, Jude Felix and Harendra Singh (FIH recognized coach). Even though he did suggest India to employ an Indian coach, he feels that HI will only employ a foreign coach for the team.
2020 Tokyo Olympics
The Indian hockey team has progressed gradually and Nobb too deserves a pat on the back. Before Terry Walsh took over the role of national team coach, Nobb had been content and glad with the performance of his team and even predicted that 2020 Tokyo Olympics will see Indian hockey at its helm. And now the Rio Olympic qualification proves that the team is on the right direction. Their constant victories and improvement will surely bring back home a medal in 2020, according to Nobbs, while, the 2016 Rio Olympics will be a good experience for the team. With a clear-cut statement that India won’t bring back home a gold medal in Rio Olympics he defends and adds that a new, young and home-grown coach will make the team perform better with time. It’s a complementary situation where a good coach impresses the players to perform well or the good performance of the players moulds the coach.
How a new format helps team
A new format for the game will benefit India. In contrast to the earlier format where a 70-minute game split into two halves exhausted the Indian players, the new format has a game separated into four quarters (15 minutes each) where the players have time to take breath and perform better on the field. Such a format gets top notch teams and under-pressure teams on a competing level.
Most of the teams, including Australia, have strong players in the team and the traditional one game of 70 minutes helps substitute players every five minutes or so. Every player being equally strong helps them perform well and get technique into the match. But in India, the new format could prove to be helpful for the players where fitness is not at its finest. Fatigued players can lead to errors on field and now with four quarters, players can certainly perform better. With time, India will adapt well to the format.