Blame game after debacle: Hockey searches for answers

In the 1980 Olympic games held in Moscow,the national hockey team won its last gold medal.

Written by Rohan Swamy | Published:August 9, 2012 1:20 am

In the 1980 Olympic games held in Moscow,the national hockey team won its last gold medal. From having won a total of eight golds,one silver and two bronze at the Games since 1928,the national hockey team in the recent past has slumped to not participating in the 2008 Games in Beijing for the first time and also losing all its league matches at 2012 Olympics.

Benny Boodle,Secretary,Maharashtra Hockey Federation,says,“As far as statistics go,this is the first time that India has lost at the Olympics to Belgium. While the commentators were talking about the talent pool in the team,it was also a game about lost chances. The body language of the team suggested that they were more interested to get their name on the scorecard rather than score goals for the nation.”

The game had been divided right down after the Indian Hockey Federation,which was the original apex body for the game,split and rival faction Hockey India happened. After the intervention of the government,Hockey India was tasked with sending the national team to the Olympics while the IHF was in charge of tournaments that were conducted across India uptil the national level. Boodle also mentions that there were some pretty good players from the World Series Hockey (WSH) tournament that were overlooked for the national team because the tourney was conducted by the IHF.

Victor Ellis,president,Maharashtra Hockey Association and ex-joint secretary of the IHF says the result was expected given the deep divide between the two governing bodies at the top. The division is evident from the fact that both the Maharashtra Hockey Association and the Maharashtra Hockey Federation lay their claim as being the original organisation in the state to promote the game. “While we have eight goals on one hand and have made it to the pages of history for the same,we have also lost to Belgium for the first time. Even if a feud exists between the bodies,the government should have stepped in and sent a team that was best suited for national interest. It is true,there were talented players in the WSH championships who were ignored because they chose to play at the tournament organised by the IHF.

Just prior to them leaving for the Olympics,the team had a national camp in Pune at Balewadi. While coach Michael Nobbs had ensured that a fighting fit team had gone for the Games in London,he admitted after the game against Belgium that ‘the players were not up to their mark’. Team Doctor B K Nayak,who had been involved in the training of the team at Balewadi,had also mentioned that even though the team had a gruelling training session,the morale was at an all-time high.

Ex-coach of the Indian Hockey Team Joaquim Carvalho had strong words for both coach Michael Nobbs and Narinder Batra of HI.

Stating that both would have to answer some tough questions for the debacle,he said,“When Pakistan could send players who played in the WSH in their national squad then why did HI not do the same. The players were clearly sidelined. On the other hand the coach who had made tall claims about the squad being in top form,has chosen to blame the senior players and says that they did not perform according to the strategies set forth. This is absurd because there were actually no strategies visible on the turf and the players were playing haphazardly.”

India will now be playing South Africa for the eleventh and twelfth place play-offs in the Olympics on Saturday in what is being termed as a ‘wooden spoon’ tie.

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