New Delhi: Former India skipper and newly-appointed women’s junior hockey coach Tushar Khandker is looking to bury the ghosts of a disappointing 2008 Olympic Qualifiers in Santiago, Chile when he guides the side in the junior World Cup to be held in the same city later this year.
Khandker was part of the Indian men’s team which lost to Britain 0-2 in the Qualifiers in Santiago and failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 80 years.
However, now Khandker, who has been appointed the national women’s junior team coach, has the opportunity to “convert those bitter memories into golden ones”.
“I don’t want to relive those horrific memories of Chile and so never talk about it. But maybe I have got this chance to convert those bitter memories into golden ones.
“To heal those wounds which I got there 15 years ago and are still fresh,” Khandker told PTI Bhasha in an interview.
“I am hopeful that what we could not do in 2008, the junior women’s team will do at the World Cup later this year in Chile,” he said of the team that won the junior women’s Asia Cup for the first time recently in Kakamigahara, Japan, beating four-time champions Korea.
Khandker, a former Olympian and a member of the junior and senior Asia Cup-winning teams, understands the pressure of his new job but is taking it in positive stride and expects the girls to put up a good show in the World Cup.
“My priority will be to help the players to perform their best. To produce such players who can play good hockey for India at the senior level in future.”
He admitted that expectations from the team have increased after winning the Junior Asia Cup.
“Obviously now the pressure will be on to replicate that performance in the World Cup. I take expectations positively because when you are capable then only you are expected (to achieve things). This boosts the confidence of the players,” said the former forward, who made his India debut in the Hockey Australia Challenge Cup in 2003.
The Junior World Cup will be held in Santiago, Chile, from November 29 to December 10. India have been placed in Pool C alongside Belgium, Canada and Germany.
“Our focus will now be on the World Cup. Last time the team reached the semi-finals and now has won the Junior Asia Cup. Our preparations are in the right direction and we will try to perform better everyday,” the coach said.
“It is important to perform well every day in international hockey. People talk about perfection but this word is not in my dictionary. I believe in process, learning and playing better every day.”
Khandker is happy to see the continuous progress and bench strength of Indian hockey.
“…It is a good sign for Indian women’s hockey that we have such a huge pool of talented players. This will help in picking the best team.
“The graph of hockey in India has gone up and it has reflected in the rankings as well. Be it senior women or men’s teams or junior teams. Slowly they are reaching the level where they should be. There is not much difference between the top teams and us,” he concluded.