By now, Indian hockey followers should have had their hearts repaired. India’s exit earlier than the World Cup quarterfinals was no much less damaging than that. Once a powerhouse of hockey, India had received eight Olympic gold medals. This time, nonetheless, it misplaced to New Zealand within the group stage and exited the event it hosted in Odisha.
As a results of the embarrasing defeat, India’s head coach Graham Reid, a former Australia participant, resigned. Under his mentorship, India received bronze on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 and silver on the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham final yr. “It is now time for me to step aside and handover the reins to the next management,” he stated.
But all of the blame for this failure shouldn’t be laid at Reid’s doorstep, who joined the Indian set-up in 2019. Plenty of different — some legitimate — causes are already being discused for this poor present by the Indian aspect.
Some of them are:
Handling pressure? It’s extra about ending properly
In 2010 Hockey World Cup, when India completed eighth, it was stated that the gamers couldn’t deal with the pressure from the house crowd. In 2018, India exited within the quarterfinals towards the Netherlands. Again, the house crowd pressure excuse was made to defend the efficiency of the gamers. Could it actually be about handling the gang pressure or studying tips on how to end the sport properly?
During the 2023 World Cup, India cored solely 9 targets from 94 circle entries and tried 49 photographs on the aim. The incontrovertible fact that seniors didn’t participate within the shoot-out suggests all was not likely properly throughout the workforce.
The coach’s function: Akrell and Reid advanced
On being requested why does India at all times fail on the World Cup and how lengthy it will be earlier than they lastly stand on the rostrum, Reid stated he doesn’t actually have the reply.
Before the World Cup, India determined to not prolong the contract of its psychological strengthening coach Robin Arkell. It was a choice that shocked many followers that one of many males answerable for India’s Olympics efficiency was not retained no less than till the World Cup.
The germans rent Arkell three months earlier than the World Cup and they’re now world champions. The manner the German workforce got here from behind in the course of the event, one might solely guess what Arkell would have contributed to the workforce.
Not transferring forward of Tokyo 2020
Seniors like Manpreet, Akashdeep, Lalit Upadhyay and Mandeep seemed completely absent in the course of the World Cup. The superiority advanced was additionally seen in the course of the crossover sport as India didn’t even attempt to rating extra targets after taking a 3-1 lead.
Penalty corners and over-dependence on Harmanpreet Singh
Only 5 out of 26 penalty corners have been transformed by India until the crossover stage. India’s ace-drag flicker and captain Harmanpreet Singh might convert just one penalty nook duiring the torunament — that too towards Wales. He even missed two penalty strokes, certainly one of which got here within the shootout towards New Zealand. It was one of the crucial necessary explanation why India failed large time.
The home league
India is the one workforce within the high 10 of the FIH rankings that doesn’t have a daily home league. In a rustic with leagues even for kho-kho and volleyball, it’s baffling why the nationwide sport would not have a league of its personal.
Hockey was by no means performed league type in India earlier than the introduction of Premier Hockey League in 2005. It considerably began commercialisation of the nationwide sport, however couldn’t maintain the pressure of monetary burden.
World Series Hockey was controversial as two hockey associations have been in place in India throughout that point. After 5 profitable seasons, even Hockey India League was disbanded. To be competing on the world stage with no pool of 100 gamers of worldwide customary would at all times be problematic.
The highway forward
Many consultants have stated Hockey India and its chief Dileep Tirkey ought to guarantee India has a league in place with no less than 8 groups from the hockey heartlands akin to Coorg (Karnataka), Odisha, Jharkhand, Punjab, Manipur and the belt of Lucknow-Varanasi. Other ideas which have come embody hiring a psychological power and conditioning coach as quickly as doable. And, there needs to be a wholesome competitors for each place within the workforce.