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German precision,Spanish mentoring

The experience that Bhandup lad Dhananjay Mahadik had gained while playing in German Bundesliga for the 1st Division team TG Frankenthal has finally paid rich dividends.

Written by Shailendra Awasthi | Mumbai |
July 9, 2009 4:09:07 am

The experience that Bhandup lad Dhananjay Mahadik had gained while playing in German Bundesliga for the 1st Division team TG Frankenthal has finally paid rich dividends. The 25-year-old Havaldar of the Indian Army was recalled to the Europe tour-bound Indian hockey team.

The 23-member side will play four Tests against England (in Birmingham) and three each against Belgium (in Antwerp) and Spain (in Terassa). Besides,it will also play two Tests versus Holland in Amstelveen during the 25-day tour.

“I knew my hard work and exploits in the Bundesliga will certainly help me one day,” said the Army XI skipper who had led his team to a title victory in the Bombay Gold Cup held in April earlier. Mahadik had just returned a couple of days ago from the German tour when he got the news that he’d been recalled to the team after he had last donned India colours during the 2006 SAF Games at Colombo,Sri Lanka.

“In fact I had received a call from the team management just couple of days before the Indian camp in Pune. But I had already committed to my German Club TG Frankenthal for a two-week stint starting on June 20,” says Mahadik. “Then I spoke to Indian coach Jose Brasa and explained to him about my prior commitment to the German team. He graciously agreed to release me after a week’s training at Pune camp,” added Mahadik.

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Now soon after his return,Mahadik got the news of being recalled,which means that in just a week’s training with Indian team,Mahadik had managed to impress the Spanish coach. “Brasa sir was happy with my style of playing. Once he told me that he finds me very hard working and an intelligent player,” claims Mahadik. “I think that clinched the berth for me in the Indian team,” felt Mahadik.

Talking about his week’s experience of training with Brasa,Mahadik,who was a star in the Maratha Warriors line-up in the past two editions of the Premier Hockey League,feels that the Indian coach has done his homework. “He has found out some basic mistakes in the style with which the Indian team plays like position of the ball at the wrong place. Too much dribbling,late decision making,running with the ball with the head down and not up,and passing the ball without looking up,” informed Mahadik. “So he is trying to sort out these problems and he’s also putting a lot more emphasis on the fitness front,” observed Mahadik.

Mahadik says Brasa had asked him about his Germany experiences. “He asked me what position I play in for the German team and what I’m asked to do when in front or what I’m supposed to do while in defense etc.,” informed Mahadik. Mahadik also recalled one incident that helped him win Brasa over. “It happened in the first week’s training before I left for Germany. During one team meeting I requested Brasa sir to explain to us on the blackboard what exactly he wanted us to do when we go out in field for training. Till then,he would only tell us how to go about it once we reached the field. I told him that if he explained that in advance,most members of our team can follow the instructions well. I believe that clicked and Brasa appreciated me for pointing that out,” says Mahadik. “Now when I have returned,I saw that request was heeded to.”

Mahadik says Brasa wants things to get quicker,and the passing swifter. “He wants our players to react fast. He wants us to tackle and clear the ball in minimum of touches. He wants players to stop being too much in love with the ball. He wants the ball to be released fast among players,” observed Mahadik.

The Army XI skipper says that what he learned from Brasa within one week helped him greatly in Bundesliga. “The running with the ball with head looking up came very handy this time in Bundesliga. I could judge better the position of my players. And of course the short passes. But I feel Germans are still superior in defense. They don’t believe in man-to-man marking. They can mark you by simply remaining in your vicinity. If you stand just behind the player to mark him it can backfire in Bundesliga,” opined Mahadik.

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