Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Indian Hockey

Jugraj Singh
If there was one person who could have changed the face of Indian hockey it was Jugraj. Unfortunately he met with an accident in 2003 September and is still not back to his best. The passion is now lacking in the hockey team.
Right now our hockey tam is touring Malaysia for the Sultan Azlan Shah cup. India won the first match with South Africa 2-1 and after that it has been a downward trend. We drew with New Zealand 2-2, lost to Malaysia 4-1 and lost to Korea 4-1. We still have to play the super -powers Australia and Pakistan where I hope, they will put in at least half a dozen goals.
I am a fultu fan of hockey and I have played hockey for my school, my UG college, my university and PG college. Played in any posible position except "Golie". I know whats the problem with Indian hockey, although I was always an average player. But the IHF Administrators are doing nothing about it. They have turned their backs towards the problem. What we need today is new ideas and for doing that we need a foreign coach. Even the hockey coaching legend Ric Charlsworth from Australia, said he wants to coach the Indian team. But the old man Gill (who should die as soon as possible) said "No" to him.
The problem is not astroturf. Players like Prabhjot Singh, Arjun Halappa and Gagan Ajit Singh have been playing on it for more than 10 years now. The problem is that they have been playing the same style of hockey for 50 years and have learnt nothing new. I felt very bad when I could see the players doing nothing in the match against Malaysia on Saturday. After the left flank was blocked by the Malaysian defence. I could see the coach was like "Jao kheelo, aaj tumhara match hai." No motivation from the bench, no new strategy. This is not a team. Our IIT team could give them a tough competition I think.
god save our team thats all I can say.
V...
This is what Harsha Bhogle had to say about Astroturf and Indian Hockey. The article came in Indian Express:
Hockey’s Grass Act
The Bukit Jalil Stadium isn’t the most spectacular piece of real estate in Kuala Lumpur, it is nowhere near as extravagant as many of the buildings around it that are engaged in a relentless battle to be taller. But as I walked through the unassuming gates I stopped to stare. It is pretty, it is photogenic and it exudes the kind of warmth a home for sport can. The Sultan Azlan Shah, quite a personality himself, can be happy with what Kuala Lumpur has thrown up for his tournament.
But as you watch the ball skim along the surface, you start to wonder what happened to the original theatre. Hockey moved to astro-turf many years ago but it did so to the total exclusion of grass or natural turf. It needn’t have been that way, and those running hockey in our part of the world must come forward and admit that, but, more important, it needn’t be that way any more.
All over the world, sport demands proficiency in different conditions. To be able to adapt and then deliver is one of the great skills of a sportsman. Rahul Dravid is among those at the top of the world today because he can score a hundred in blustery, seaming conditions in England, on a dry surface in Pakistan and on a rank turner in India.
Andre Agassi will go down in history because he won a Grand Slam event on each of the four surfaces tennis is played on. Indeed Roger Federer, and before him another great, Pete Sampras, were asked questions about their relative inability to play on clay.
For us, believers and pilgrims, sport is about challenges encountered and vanquished.
If tennis, cricket, cycling, even golf, can be played on different surfaces why not hockey? It might demand different skills, it should, and that itself will render it more fascinating. Today it doesn’t seem to matter as much whether a tournament is played in Kuala Lumpur or in Hyderabad, it looks and feels the same. It demands great skill, enormous fitness and often, bravery, but it demands the same qualities everyday.
Wouldn’t you want to know, for example, whether Troy Elder and Jamie Dwyer can play on natural grass the way they do on astro turf? Would Holland and Germany be major forces? Would India and Pakistan emerge as the kings? I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.
In fact, one of the myths going around, and often discussed with nostalgia rather than reason, is that if hockey allowed itself the old, traditional grass variant, India would mesmerise the world again; a new Dhyan Chand and Balbir Singh and Ajit Pal Singh would emerge, the old wooden sticks would, like the flute, play a magical tune again.
And socialism would re-emerge, the Ambassador would be king of the roads and Bajaj would have 10-year waiting lists!
No. A good player has to be a good player on any surface and the Europeans might still turn up trumps but they would have to re-evolve to do so.
And if Asia does indeed emerge the best on grass, so be it. We don’t have to feel the lesser for it. The Spaniards and Latin Americans are about the best in the world on clay and can hardly play on grass but that didn’t stop you admiring Juan Carlos Ferrero, or Sergi Bruguera, or now, Rafael Nadal and Guillermo Coria. Gagan Ajit Singh or Prabhjot Singh might emerge as the best in the world on grass and that would be fantastic, not wrong.
It requires initiative and it requires finance. I can bet that if the event was sponsor- and TV-friendly the second of the two would not be a problem in the new India. But I can just as strongly bet that initiative will be a problem. I cannot imagine a prize money tournament not attracting Australia and Holland. The audiences are here, the corporates are here.
Fifteen years ago, it would have been thought of as blasphemous for Sundaram Clayton and Bharat Forge to emerge as world class suppliers to world class automobiles, for Indian students to be openly solicited by US universities for their ability to pay, for Australians to want to live in India and coach India!
They had initiative and they discovered finance and markets. Sport can too if it sheds its own reticence, if it breaks the shackles of government lending, if it looks beyond petty elections. The IHF, like other sports bodies, need to open their windows and breathe the air of the country they live in.

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