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World Cup Musings (9/18/2006)
--K. Arumugam
Joginder Singh is not just a run of the mill NRI hockey fan. For about 30 years since 1981 Bombay World Cup, the leading medical practioner based in Schweinfurt in Germany, has been volunteering sports medicine services for Indian hockey teams. He was our official doctor at Monchengladbach too. He says he has been unnecessarily abused by the IHF secretary Jothikumaran. His fault was asking the bloated egoist why did he not come to the stadium the other day. Accordinglg to Joginder, he wanted to discuss with the Seceratary certain things about the team and initiated the dialogue this way. "But he took it otherwise. He started abusing me and asked whom am to question him. He then said that he need not watch anything here to understand hockey. I was stunned and left at this".

"I have spent my leaves more with hockey teams than with my family. Things such as this hurts me" the genial doctor says. Considering the fact that Joginder shared with the former IHF president Ashwini Kumar (then on the IOC panel) the cost of shoes for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic hockey team, one shares his anguish. Jothikumarn can affend a hockey official or a hockey lover such as Joginder and get away with it.

Sticking to the seat of power for long, that too unquestioned and unaccountable, gives him a false sense of self-importance. He can fly here, stay for a day or two and silently withdrew from the scene if the team is not winning. Don't think he is alone in this. Even the team manager S.P. Das left from here after five matches on the pretext of a relative's ill. These officials, most of them are jersey pickers, cannot see Indian team losing and leave the scene as quick as they could. For every need and emergency the two willing puppets, coach Vasudevan Baskran and his deputy Harendera Singh, struggle here and don't even come out open with the problems they face. But nothing could be hidden as the events unfolded here in Monchegladbach reveal.

When the Federation officials such as Jothi and Das waste public money on free trips, the team lacks modern things. Just providing kit on the eve of departure would not do. Consider this. When Baskaran was asked his opinion on disallowal of a penalty corner even before the shot was taken -- The ball was stopped inside the circle, which is not permitted -- he had to confide that he could not exactly spot where the ball was stopped. A coach cannot monitor everything that transpires on the field. He needs live inputs from support staff. That's why the support team of leading outfits such as Spain, Germany and Australia are so big. Their backup team is as strong as the playing 16, in number and in duty.

On an another occasion, a foreign journalist asked Baskaran: "What will be your advice to your defensive and goalkeeper coaches against the fact that so many easy field goals are scored and almost all penalty corners are coverted". With a lot of difficulty Baskaran evaded a direct reply, even as the handful of Indian journalists hid their grin at the questioner's ignorance about the Indian scenario.

World over deputy coaches go about and analyse the game sectorwise -- defense, midfield, attack, goalkeeping -- and help improvise the games in their chosen areas. Video analyst, who is half a coach himself, and an array of simulation softwares then come into play. The coaches spread all around stadium during the match and provide vital clues to the chief coach. Chief coach in fact is an off-field captain who commands a full team of staff to help the playing eleven. Spain coach Maurits Hendriks' castigated organizers here on denial of accreditation to some of his deputies. This after Spain got nine!

The moot point, therefore, is why our former Olympians such as Baskran come forward to coach time and again when a proper modern training environoment does not simply exist. Or, are they ignorant of the the modern world itself? Or, what makes them to be silent on such issues and suffer in silence.

Finishing eleventh at the World Cup is unacceptable. The perpetrators of the crime should not go unpunished. It's fourth world cup disaster under KPS Gill. He should not be allowed to find a scapegoat and escape. Baskran deserves no sympathy. It does not mean Gill can go scotfree, find scapegoat and live happily thereafter. We have seen the cycle repeat enough.

Gill killed Indian hockey systematically. His Federation ignored grass root hockey. Nationals and domestic hockey matter nothing in their scheme of things. The base and the quality of players shrunk to abysmal levels. Due to misdirected and short term policies so many played for India that representing the country seems easy, lost its charm and prestige. Country colour seems an entry for Employment Exchange. Gill's petty minded Secretary habitually interfers in technical matters and make the things worse. Whoever comes to coaching face terrible times because of this. Both Rajinders -- Senior and Junior

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