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My Last Word
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Lift the ban of Sardar, Sandeep. Leave the selecti (9/21/2011)
--K. Arumugam
Lift the ban Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh; leave the selection choice to coach.

My Last Word:Indian hockey of late is operating in a complex situation. And it is becoming more complex each passing day. Cases from sessions court to Supreme Court, a chaotic administration at top to top it all, loyalty of players being questioned by each warring faction and such other unavoidables leave everybody confused, oblivious of what is going on in Indian hockey.

But for the financial support of the government, hockey would have long been rendered orphaned. Thankfully, with the kind of infrastructure, financial benevolence the government is providing, we live to hear good news here and there.

First and foremost good thing we are happy about is, we have a foreign coach who speaks wisdom, and people who count seem to listen to him. A fringe benefit of this is Ordos. This victory, despite not shown live on channels, have struck a chord with all of Indians. We savoured the victory, congrats coach, your staff, the team.

Victories are what we need, and we have one at Ordos. India was third in Asia roughly a year ago with the bronze at the Asian Games. In the same company of rivals, India is now number one. No one can deny the improvement and its significance to the survival of hockey in India.

However, there are hard facts before us. One cannot bypass the fact that a coach is not a magician, who within just six weeks of training would have started bringing gold. Even the coach will agree to this reality. It’s long way to go for India in almost all areas of the game. Ordos at best is a motivating factor towards that target.

Unfortunately, we Indians tend to exaggerate things we like, all hockey victories therefore tell us a different historical trend. We went so overboard after 1975 World Cup, it was followed by first ever 7th position in the Olympics a year later. You can go on adding to this. 2007 Asia Cup win — where we beat Korea 7-2 in the final -- was followed by Chile OQ within four months. So, there is a necessity to value the victories to its true perspectives so that we will be either complacent or over-confident.

How many ranking points do the Ordos victory giv us? So that we can also move up in the FIH Ranking Chart? An Asian Games bronze last year gave us 250 4anking points, Asia Cup gold in 2007 gave us 1000 points

The ACT in Ordos give us no ranking points. Just like Afro-Asian Games in 2003 it is an ornamental tournament, whose second edition even may not take place,though we wish it becomes a regular event. The mere fact that ACT doesnot have ranking points should put things in proper perspective. The Asian Champions Trophy,by all means, is a small tournament that brings not even single point with respect to nations’ ranking.

Therefore, it is nobody’s point that India has found a strong core group for future tasks. Neither the euphoria the Ordos created nor the success of some great individual players there should give us an impression that Indian hockey is well-settled. No, not at all. Coach Michael Nobbs himself has reasonably evaluated the success and explained the shortcomings especially with respect to penalty corner scenario. Therefore, coming to the point, the case of banning Sardar and Sandeep should be viewed.

No player is innocent in India. No player is above himself in India. These are the ground realities. Because, he lives in a particular environment where he only knows his survival tools. A player will not be a saint when all the people he has to deal with are not so. Any coach who plans long career in India, which Nobss would, have to live with these realities. When Dhanraj Pillay and Jude Felix skipped the inconsequential 1993 Austria Cup, people went overboard and questioned their patriotism, proposed ban etc, but later they went on play for another decade, atleat Pillay. Unlike in many other countries, players here are brought to the turf promising a job and better life. Nothing else. Patriotic impulse comes later. ‘No one is above the team’ sells where honesty and sincerity exist in all spheres, not expected only with the players’ segment as happens in India. This is a vexed amateur vs professionalism issue. One stray case of Sardar-Sundeep cannot solve it, any case.

Therefore, the question of banning Sandeep Singh and Sardar Singh need to be approached, afresh. My first objection to the banning is, timing. It could have been done after the tournament. Second objection is, those Indians who vehemently proposed ban are those who have been byword and synonimous for indiscipline during their playing times. I may be subjective here, and even this view could be questioned, I agree. But one cannot ignore another reality. The same people who advocate ban now, riding on the shoulders of the genuinely indignant new coach, will desert him if a phone comes from top. They will not hesitate to desert the coach and put all the blame on the coach. I am not the one who will believe the apostle of today’s discipline will not succumb to extraneous pressures.

We have seen enough on this count -- Tejbir Singh’s case is still fresh in mind. He was banned for two years, but when a chief coach was changed, Tejbir came into the national team shortly. His ban having never been officially withdrawn!! If, for argument sake, India fails at OQ, the set of administrators and cronies will point fingers at the coach. They won’t even hesitate to take action against coach for banning top players. You never know what will happen in India if somebody else’s survival comes into question.

That’s why I in the beginning mentioned Indian hockey works in a strange complex milieu. Thirdly, Sandeep and Sardar are stars. Can in cricket, for instance, any of the top ten player could have ever been banned, so silently, so quickly? Hockey has no stars, let us not insult our stars. It would discourage young generation of players.

Does this mean indiscipline should be allowed? No not at all. What am telling is, they cannot be banned just because we won at Ordos. Because, the significance of Ordos lies in its inherent catalyst role rather than reflecting neither our true field strength nor a measure of progress we made.We can’t say we have got suitable replacements for the duo. Yes, the duo ‘lied’, which no coach worth his salt will ever approve of, but such incidents will not be alone or exceptional, likely to surface again and again because of the confusing hockey situation in India. Let the time come for WSH, we will have even worse scenario.

So, we should focus and consider long term interests of hockey. Even beyond OQ. While the importance of discipline should get its true ascent, the overall contemporary atmosphere should not be further muddied by perpetuating the ban.

Therefore, I am constrained to look at the problem in its two facets. First, administratively and secondly from technical point of view.

Administratively, let the ban be lifted. It’s awesome to exclude the players of stature of Sardar and Sundeep even from domestic scene. Technically, it should be the discretion of coach, coach alone, to decide whether he needs their services for the country or not.

Since we believe Nobbs is a hockey brain, mature enough, accountable, it is he who will alone take decision as to the duo will be part of his future team or not.

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champions trophy
by hockeyboy hockeyboy on 9/22/2011 9:27:15 AM
let us first analys the tournament.india had problems with two teams one is japan and other is malaysia. both this team gave a tough fight to india japan may be possibly hosting one of the world cup qualifier in regard to this they are buliding a team and this can be seen when japan beaten pak,on other hand malaysian coach had already told thier main target was to be in top 3 here and preaparation for forthcomming champions cahllenge trophy in south africa. in this point of view china played without thier top 4 players in the tournament,korea really had a bad time and too much of experiment that went wrong, pak was careless in matches also rehan and sohail absence was felt including india all the teams had junior players. champions trophy in dec would have given us a clear picture about the condition of the team but now it got shifted.
Sandeep and Sardar
by michael nobbs on 9/21/2011 9:20:02 PM
Yes I gave my consent a few days ago, I loved your article and you are very accurate in your portrail of the situation. Coach