Has Indian hockey been failed by Nobbs or the system?

Even as another foreign hockey coach leaves Indian shores, the question of how Indian hockey's fortunes can be revived remains unanswered.

Michael Nobbs was the fourth foreigner hired to turn around one-time hockey superpower India's fortunes, but like Gerhard Rach, Ric Charlesworth and Jose Brasa before him, he failed as well. So what are the reasons for India's inability to pick itself up and make a place among the top hockey-playing nations.

Nobbs was in charge of Indian hockey for two years and he leaves with the realisation that managing the public's expectations was anything but easy. He was forced to quit due to health issues. His blood pressure was 180/120 and he was passing out all the time. In an interview with the Indian Express, the Australian looked back at the experience of coaching the Indian team and also spoke about the way forward.

Has Indian hockey been failed by Nobbs or the system?

Will any coach be given enough time to effect a turnaround? Are two years enough to reverse decades of inaction? Getty Images

"The experience has been fantastic with highs and lows — lots of them. It's a tough job, really tough job. All the foreign coaches that have come here have been highly successful but haven't been able to produce the results that the public want," said Nobbs. "Is that the coach's fault or was it the system's fault?"

Indeed that is a question that many would love an answer too. As soon as the news about Nobbs' sacking started making the rounds, former Indian players and coaches started pitching for the job. But the main argument with Indian hockey has always been about time.

Will any coach be given enough time to effect a turnaround? Are two years enough to reverse decades of inaction?

"It's just that the processes have to be put in place. Roelant Oltmans is the high performance director and he trying to put processes in place to build up the grass roots and to build up the base of hockey — and these things will work but they need time to work," said Nobbs. "The problem with the national coaching is that you don't have time for development because you are thrust from one coaching job to the next and you don't have time."

Under Nobbs, India would beat lower-ranked teams and Asian teams regularly but they would struggle against European team. And the old failing kept surfacing all through the Australian's stint.

"We need to find a way to improve. We are still struggling to beat the European teams. The Asian teams, we beat consistently, but these European teams, they are better than us. We need to get better playing those teams and I have been saying this for two years now," he said.

If you want to learn how to counter the Europeans, you have to understand their tactics and the best way to do that is to go and play in their leagues. Even the likes of Dhanraj Pillay spent time playing in the Dutch Leagues and that's what more Indians need to do.

"Maybe we have to send our players to Europe to play. Belgium is a really good example. They've had their players playing in the Dutch national competition for a number of years. Ireland had a number of their players in national competition of Belgium. I don't think our domestic hockey here will improve the players as fast as we need them to improve," Nobbs added.

Read the full Indian Express interview HERE

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Updated Date: Jul 16, 2013 13:26:27 IST

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