Bhubaneswar: Former skippers of the Indian hockey team Dilip Tirkey, Ajit Pal Singh and Dhanraj Pillay stated in unison that the Indian team need indigenous coaches rather that high profile foreign coaches. The trio was playing Nostradamus on the upcoming men’s Hockey World Cup at the Ekamra Sports Literary Festival (ESLF) here Friday.
“An Indian coach understands the Indian culture well. He communicates with them well and keeps them at ease. So the team needs an Indian at the helm,” stated Dhanraj candidly in a group discussion moderated by Jitendra Nath Misra.
“Among all the foreign coaches I rate Ric Charlesworth highest. He has contributed a lot to enhance Indian hockey during his short snit as the team’s coach. Other than him, Indian coaches are better than foreign coaches,” he added.
Ajit echoed Dhanraj. “No doubt all the foreign coaches have contributed to the development of Indian hockey. But coaches of the country are also good and they should be given enough chances to give prospective and direction to Indian hockey,” he observed.
Dilip too lent voice in favour of Indian coaches. “We can’t write off the foreign coaches. Their tips and guidance have been invaluable. But then I think Indian coaches can do a much better job,” he opined.
All the former Indian players, including former Australian player and current coach of New South Wales Brent Livermore, admitted that the Indian team has improved by leaps and bounds. “Australia, Netherlands and Belgium are favourites for the World Cup, while Argentina are the dark horse. But India have become better, stronger and sharper. They have the capability to upset any team if they perform to their potential,” Brent stated.
“India have now become more open in their approach and they are accepting new hockey techniques and skills around the world. On the other hand, Australia are an all-round team with a lot of depth. I would love to see an India-Australia final,” he added.
Dhanraj expressed concern over injury issues of some key players. “Senior players SV Sunil and Birendra Lakra are injured and it is not certain whether they will recover in time. In their absence there will be tremendous pressure on others and the youngsters in the team have to lift their game a few notches,” he concluded.