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HOCKEY INDIA LEAGUE
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Top Australian coaches for Hockey India League? (8/21/2012)
--Uthra Ganesan Chaturvedi
In July 2008, after the Olympic qualifiers disaster in Chile, Australian coach Ric Charlesworth, who had come as technical advisor to Indian hockey, was unceremoniously dumped by the ad-hoc committee running the sport.

So unceremoniously, in fact, that while Charlesworth kept insisting from Perth that he hadn’t quit, the IOA-formed committee and the sports ministry simply moved on without even bothering to reply to his mails. Soon after, Charlesworth was appointed by Hockey Australia as the chief coach of their senior men’s team, and everyone who follows hockey knows what all the legendary coach went on to achieve in the next four years.

undefined Now, despite all the bad blood between Charlesworth and Indian hockey administrators, the Australian is set to return to India, this time with the proposed Hockey India League in January 2013. While no one is ready to confirm yet, sources in the know confirm that Ric has been approached for coaching one of the six franchises in the upcoming league and he has also given a verbal okay to the offer. Besides Ric, Colin Batch, Terry Walsh and Mark Hager – all Australians – and Dutchman Roelant Oltmans are the other names being considered for the coach’s job in the six-team event. However, current India coach Michael Nobbs is likely to stay away from the league.

“The difference this time is that even though it’s a Hockey India league, it will be handled by private franchises. Since it’s modeled on the IPL, the franchises will have complete freedom to appoint their staff and work out their contracts. Therefore, even though Ric has had a bad experience in India before, this time it isn’t the federation he is dealing with, and so is willing to come over,” said one of the people in the know of things.

The decision isn’t surprising, given that Charlesworth has always been interested in Indian hockey and, as technical advisor, had even travelled across the country to prepare a complete report on reviving the sport at the grassroots and take India to top five in the world.

Also, Charlesworth has reportedly refused to lead Australia at a third Olympics or continue beyond his present contract with Hockey Australia, which runs out in 2014. And with the FIH allowing a separate window for the league – there will be no international hockey played at that time – Charlesworth can coach here without it conflicting with international duties.

“All the top players in the world will be part of the league. And with someone like Ric in charge, the Indian players under him will only benefit. However, the franchise he is likely to sign up with is yet to be finalized,” said a source.

Only two franchises have been sold so far – Lucknow to Sahara India and Punjab to Jaypee Associates -- with talks on for the rest.

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