When Tushar Khandker started his worldwide profession in the early 2000s, dribbling the ball alongside the carpet was nonetheless thought-about considered one of hockey’s final abilities. By the time his days with the nationwide crew obtained over, after a 12-year profession, that artistry was making method for sorcery. The dribble was rapidly turning into passé and hockey, as a substitute, was going ‘3D’. More and extra players have been studying to raise the ball off the turf and dribble it in the air whereas persevering with to dash concurrently (the artwork of adjusting the route of the ball mid-air creates an phantasm of types, therefore the title ‘3D’).
Today, even that has change into a primary ability. “Hockey is changing every four-five years nowadays,” Khandker says. “And we have to keep adapting to all these changes.” Adapting to modifications hasn’t actually been India’s power. Indian hockey has been notoriously gradual in responding to nearly each change that has been launched in the sport over the final 5 a long time and watching home hockey is usually akin to indulging in time journey.
Now, Khandker and his contemporaries are attempting to deliver a couple of change. Almost two dozen women and men players, who’ve all retired over the final decade, are going by way of Hockey India and International Hockey Federation’s certification course of to change into accredited coaches and provides a fillip to the eroding grassroots construction. The checklist of players wanting to flip into coaches is lengthy: other than Khandker, his former India teammates Deepak Thakur, Prabhjot Singh, Devesh Chauhan, Shivendra Singh, Bharat Chetri, Gurbaj Singh, Sameer Dad, Vickram Kanth and Girish Pimple are a few of the players who’ve undertaken the course together with 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallists Pritam Siwach, Sanggai Chanu and Helen Marry, amongst others.
During the lockdown, the 32 males and 23 girls’s crew players in the core group for the Tokyo Olympics attended a primary course on-line as a part of Hockey India’s formidable try to formalise India’s coaching pyramid. Since the course of was launched in April 2019, roughly 650 coaches have gone by way of the certification programme, in accordance to Hockey India’s high-performance director David John.
“It is by design (to have recently-retired and current players into the coaching programme). The idea is to give them an early introduction to see whether they like this and then it is their choice,” John says.
Like in most other areas, India has woken up late to the idea of getting the players into coaching. In the Netherlands, for instance, it is not uncommon for senior membership or nationwide crew players to coach the junior groups concurrently whereas enjoying. It is analogous in Australia as properly, the place the players start coaching whereas having an energetic profession. Hence, it is not uncommon to see just-retired players taking on senior roles with completely different nationwide groups: for example, 34-year-old Chris Ciriello, who performed for Australia at the 2016 Olympics, is at present the analytical coach of the Indian males’s crew.
India, on the other hand, has made its aversion to investing in coaches apparent over the years. That Graham Reid was the 26th males’s crew coach in 25 years when he was appointed in May 2019 exhibits the full lack of expertise of the head coach’s function. At the identical time, creating home coaches has by no means been a precedence till now; a undeniable fact that many say is the motive for the nationwide crew’s relentless slide since the mid-1970s.
Despite having produced some world-class players, one can rely on fingertips the variety of player-turned-coaches who’ve made an influence since India gained its final Olympic medal in 1980 – MK Kaushik, Rajinder Singh Senior, Vasudevan Baskaran and Harendra Singh. “We all assume great players become great coaches but that’s not always the case,” John says.
While mere certification won’t be the magic bullet, John says it is going to assist create a cohesive enjoying fashion throughout the nation, particularly at the sub-junior stage, and assist Indian coaches get up-to-date with fashionable hockey’s programs and terminologies. John says the intention is to develop an general enjoying philosophy that will likely be carried out bottom-up, and inside that construction, give the home groups the area to keep their very own fashion. “Having been to four national championships, I have seen very little difference between the teams in the way they prepared and were coached… no change in patterns or style or structure in any of the teams really,” John says.
He cites rolling substitutions for example. “In international hockey, we make 60-80 rotations in a match so the players are very familiar to be changed every 2-3 minutes whereas in domestic hockey, it’s seen as a slight if a player is made to change.”
Khandker, who was India’s assistant coach at the Rio Olympics, says the coaching programme has given him an thought about coping with participant accidents, restoration, psychological points and man-management. There are other seen modifications as properly.
For occasion, at the National Championships in Gwalior two years in the past, Khandker, considered one of the coaches of the Petroleum Sports Promotion Board crew, stationed himself on high of a water tank close to the floor to present tactical inputs to Devesh Chauhan, who was dealing with the dugout. This function – extraordinarily vital in fashionable hockey because it provides a chicken’s-eye view of the match – is pretty frequent internationally in addition to membership hockey elsewhere however only a few home groups in India do it due to lack of personnel in the coaching crew in addition to lack of information.
A variety of present coaches have a diploma from the National Institute of Sport in Patiala. “That gave an overall perspective on coaching. The current programme gives me specific insights on hockey coaching,” says Pritam Siwach.
The 2002 Commonwealth Games gold medallist has been working an academy in Sonepat and has produced a number of players from the area. Siwach says she has made ‘small but important changes’ to her fashion. “When a young child comes, I don’t give her a hockey stick. Instead, for the first few weeks, she plays football and/or relays. It takes the pressure off them and they can put to use their learnings from other sports in hockey,” she says.
Following sports activities other than hockey is a key ingredient of the programme. “It’s also important they watch Pro League matches and see if other countries use patterns and systems which we aren’t using in India,” John says.
The complete function of the train, John provides, is to create a pool of Indian coaches who’re properly versed with the newest guidelines and ways, and never essentially to cut back India’s reliance on overseas specialists. In the final decade, Harendra has been the solely Indian coach to have taken cost of the nationwide males’s crew.
“Belgium is world number one and they don’t have a Belgium-born coach coaching any of their teams, men or women,” John says. “With a foreigner, you get a good viewpoint. (Legendary Australian coach) Ric Charlesworth always had a European on his coaching staff to get a perspective when they were playing a European opponent. (But) it’s important to have a good representation of Indians on coaching panels. Going forward, their positions will get senior, and that’s good for Indian hockey.”