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Whatever the outcome, Carvalho will be accountable (3/2/2008)
--K. Arumugam
He may turn out to be our hero. Or, could well be our villain. March 9 is judgement day for national chief coach Joaquim Carvalho, more so for his monolithic approach.

The ongoing Olympic Qualifier at the most unlikeliest of places, Chile, would not only lay down a roadmap as to which way our hockey would court in the future, but will also force us to re-assess the coach.

The present team at Chile is his choice, endorsed only by the IHF Chief KPS Gill. Certainly is not a collective decision of those who are supposed to be involved in the process. That the selectors have become dummies and could not command respect with the chief coach Carvalho is another matter.

The world over, the coaches select the team and in that perspective we are happy this man could bulldoze vicious elements out of the realm of team selection. From day one, Carvalho could not be bullied by those undesirable elements thriving within the system. Having said that one should bear in mind in every other part of the world there are checks and balances that even a coach cannot fault on selection. We simply don’t have them at all.

In India what a coach needs to get team of his choice is get ‘yes’ from one man, a non-technical IHF head, KPS Gill. Whatever you say about this man, you can’t deny his trait -- he is coach-obsessed. He is good to coaches for 364 days in a year! You know well what happens on the remaining one day.

In this circumstance, has Carvalho selected right band of boys for the most crucial of engagements? I doubt.

It looks a situation has been created, or the atmosphere is so vitiated that for Sandeep Singh, easily among the handful of penalty corner genius in the contemporary scene, the priority is not for playing India.

In short, it amounts that the services of a best talent in the country is not available to the team. Is it not a fact? Who is responsible for this? The mere fact that Sandeep Singh played under half a dozen coaches and never been branded ‘indiscipline or lazy’, the words we hear nowadays from every camp, should not be lost sight of.

It is interesting to explore how so many players were ignored after just one tour and if that is the case on what merit they made it to the grade in the first place? Is getting selected for the country -- and dropped -- so simple an affair as we are increasingly getting accustomed to? I don’t think so.

Secondly, the input that a person of Richard Charlesworth’s caliber could produce, has been constantly ignored. The FIH and IOC cannot be so wrong to bring a person whom the world rates so high, to our shores. Having spent the money, having accepted him officially, we have no locus standi to create an atmosphere which gives an impression that he is ‘thrusted’. We need him badly at this crucial juncture. No second opinion on that score.

Coaches might come and go, but hockey’s interests are most important than individuals. If Carvalo says he ignores selectors, we can well sympathize with him. If he speaks on the same lines about Ric, sorry, we are not with you.

Wisdom lies listening to others’ wisdom, not questioning it. One can never believe or give an impression that people from a particular region reserves exclusive right to be intelligent. This is what is ailing us right now.

We feel rightly that India can come out of the Chile test admirably. Even without Diwakar Ram – the inexperienced may not have been catapulted to high voltage cauldron so early in the first place – India is capable of delivering the goods. In case, Gods forbid, something goes wrong, there will not be many to shed tear for the coach. Because, we have to save them for hockey itself.

This is the situation obtaining right now. Carvalho is accountable by all means. We wish and hope our coach becomes our hero. In that lies the immediate future of our hockey.

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