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OPINION: London debacle Award: Boot for Gurbaj, ex (10/10/2012)
--Reet Oberoi
London debacle award: Boot for Gurbaj, extension for Nobbs
Reet Oberoi

Hockey India’s list of 48 probables for the upcoming national camp is reflective of the manner in which the body runs the sport – domineering and autocratic.

There are a number of issues to be pondered over in the manner things have been handled post Olympics:

1) Where is midfielder Gurbaj Singh? Why has Hockey India axed only one player from the London squad?

India’s 12th place finish at the London Olympics was a collective failure of the 16 players, the think-tank and the two warring hockey bodies – who spend more time worrying about their respective leagues and court battles and less about the national team.

It is strange that while many non-performing seniors – some have played for India since the last 10 years – continue to find their place in the team, the likes of Gurbaj are left out without reason.

Anyone who follows hockey understands that there is none to match the right-half’s work ethic and dedication, and he is one of the most talented players in the team at the moment. It is also no secret that the 23-year old is not in good books of chief coach Michael Nobbs. The Australian, who’s attacking brand of hockey came to a naught in London, has in the past categorically sidelined senior players who have tried to raise their voice against him. It started with Arjun Halappa, V.S. Vinaya, Adrian D’Souza, Rajpal Singh and has now seen Gurbaj out of the team.

If any, these players have only highlighted Nobbs’ “suspect coaching methods” and “inability to come up with proper planning or co-ordination” to run the national team.

2) India has a history of sacking coaches – those who fail and the ones who succeed too. Hockey India, that claims to keep national interest above all, threw out former coach Jose Brasa of Spain after he led the team to podium finishes at the 2010 Commonwealth Games and 2010 Asian Games. Brasa was asked to leave 15 days later.

Surprisingly, India’s shameful 12th place finish has not bothered the authorities. Other than just a mandatory tournament report, Hockey India has failed to take any corrective measures and has also awarded the coach with a four-year extension!

3) Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra’s excuse of FIH threatening to ban India if they include World Series Hockey players has become as old as the hills. Pakistan’s seventh place finish in London was possible due to its greatest stars – Waseem Ahmed, Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi. If Hockey India was serious about making amends post the London debacle, a look at the national level tournaments was all that was needed.

Arjun Halappa was named the best player at the senior nationals, defender Gurjinder Singh picked the prize for best defender and is a standby in the current list, while midfielder Gurbaj Singh led Punjab to the title triumph, resulting in the golden goal in the final.

Strikers Prabhjot Singh and Deepak Thakur had excelled for IOC in the MCC Murugappa Gold Cup in Chennai last month, and continue to be the highest scorers at the domestic level despite the presence of India forwards in these events.

Where are all of them? Did the national selectors take note of these performances?

How does Hockey India justify its selection, or even the intention to bring order back in Indian hockey?

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