Hockey India

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Higher prize money on offer by Hockey India does not tell the full story

Prize Money: BCCI versus HI
Award (in lakhs) BCCI HI
Male player of the year 5 25
Female player of the year 0.5 25
Junior male player of the year 0.5 10
Junior female player of the year 0.5 10
Lifetime achievement 25 30
Total prize money 43 130
Prize Money: BCCI versus HI

Prize Money: BCCI versus HI

Hockey India are more generous employers than their cricketing counterparts—the BCCI.

Would you believe that?

It’s true.

India’s national game body gives away Rs. 1.30 crores in prize money every year, while the BCCI doles out a measly Rs. 43 lakhs.

Don’t bolt for the astro-turf fields yet.

This doesn’t account for the moolah in the IPL and that cricketers are  the highest paid (sporting) endorsers of Indian goods and services.

Other games have a long way to go. But they may be getting there.


“If you’re over 30, you’re over,” says Hockey India

If you’re 30+, you’re past it, over the hill, or simply put, too old.

Ageism hit Indian hockey players in the form of an arbitrary ruling from Hockey India (HI) preventing dribblers and keepers past 30 from participating in the Hockey India League (HIL).

Adrian D’souza, Deepak Thakur and Prabhjot Singh find themselves out in the cold without a blanket to keep them warm.

The rule is discriminatory. Foreign players have no such restrictions.

The IPL has no such problems accommodating retired cricketers and on the wrong side of 40. Look at Pravin Tambe.

You can argue that hockey is a different game where fitness is of paramount significance.

The logo of Hockey India

The logo of Hockey India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Then fitness tests should be made the criteria, not a number that informs clubs what your birth year is.

English: Dhanraj Pillay, former Indian field h...

Dhanraj Pillay, former Indian field hockey player and captain, attending annual sports meet of GGSIPU in Delhi as a chief guest. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dhanraj Pillay turned out for India till the age of 36.

Four Olympics, World Cups,Champions Trophy and Asian Games figure against his name. He still plays hockey at the club level for Karnataka Lions.

Does he have nothing to say?


Dhanraj Pillay, Air India coach, slammed Hockey India for its perverse logic saying:

“I request Narinder Batra to reconsider the decision. Players like Adrian D’Souza, Arjun Halappa, Prabodh Tirkey have left a deep impact on hockey and they are still as capable as they were a few years back. If foreigners who are above the age of 30 can be accommodated, I am sure Indians can as well.

These players have given invaluable services to the sport. Even today in places like Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and Chandigarh, they are a household name. I don’t understand the logic. If we can have foreign players who are much older in the auctions, then why not Indians? Someone like Adrian is still going so well, and deserves to be part of the league purely on form and merit. I request Narinder Batra (HI President) to look into the matter and treat Indians the same way.”

Major Dhyan Chand is the new men’s hockey coach (Satire)

(This is a work of fiction).

Following a special committee meeting ‘preponed‘ to Thursday, Hockey India chief Narinder Batra briefed the media on the selection of the men’s hockey coach.

English: Dhyan Chand

Dhyan Chand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Batra said:

“We have decided to select the late Major Dhyan Chand as the coach of the men’s squad until the 2016 Rio Olympics. We do not need foreign coaches. We have an illustrious forebear to look up to. Dhyan Chand is a source of pride and inspiration for all generations and we believe that he is the best we can present the boys under the circumstances. This is also HI’s way of posthumously honoring the man given the Indian government has yet to make him a Bharat Ratna.”

When asked how the players’ skills are   to be honed, given that Major Dhyan Chand is not a living personality, Batra replied:

“India has a proud tradition of guru-shishya relationships. Our boys will be modern-day Ekavalyas to Indian hockey’s Dronacharya. Just like Ekavalya proved himself to be a better archer than Arjun despite the master’s absence, our boys will prove themselves on the hockey field and cover themselves in reflected glory. As a mark of respect to Ekavalya who lost his thumb as ‘guru dakshina’, Hockey India will not accept sponsorship from the Coca Cola company, specifically its brand Thums Up, and will also be banning the hand sign as a congratulatory or celebratory gesture.”

It is learnt that life-size statues of the hockey great have been commissioned and will be installed at every practice field in the country. Smaller sized busts of the major  will accompany the team on tour.

Batra added:

“This practice is being tried on a trial-only basis for a period of one year. Should the hockey team fail to perform as expected, more life-size statues and busts may be commissioned of other Indian hockey greats or foreign coaches as desired. The cost savings are substantial and will improve Hockey India and Sporting Authority of India’s finances. This will also still mouths in the media that claim that I have an ego problem and am responsible for a ‘revolving door’ when it comes to selecting and firing key support personnel.”

Major Dhyan Chand’s family members declined to comment when contacted.

Disclaimer: All facts and quotes in this story are made up, but you knew that already, didn’t you?



‘Made in India’ or imported? Coach debate begins…

The furor over Paul Van Ass’ dismissal has barely died down and the debate shifts to whether Indian hockey would be better served by a home-grown coach.

It is evident that Van Ass may have been on Sports Authority of India(SAI)’s payroll but Hockey India satrap Narinder Batra’s writ runs large on the appointment or removal of key support personnel.

The above assumes significance in the context of Dhanraj Pillay’s telephonic conversation with the HI chief suggesting that it’s time to look at national talent in the recruitment of coaching staff.

English: Dhanraj Pillay, former Indian field h...

Dhanraj Pillay, former Indian field hockey player and captain(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Speaking to DNA India, Pillay said:

“I called Batra yesterday (Monday) after all this happened and told him that it was time they considered an Indian for the coach’s job.

Batra sounded very positive about the idea of an Indian coach. He told me that they will definitely think of an Indian coach now.”

Batra confirmed the news:

“Yes, he did call me and we had a chat about this. We will take all decisions after that meeting on July 24.”

A special committee meets on Friday to deliberate over Van Ass’ fate.

Narinder Batra, meanwhile, lost no time launching a scathing attack on the Dutchman.

Calling Van Ass “a liar”, Batra claimed that he had sought the erstwhile coach’s permission before speaking to the team.

He said:

“India’s match against Malaysia got over and the team had done the victory lap. The sponsors and organisers said ‘the team wants to meet you’ and I asked if I was suppose to go on the ground. They said yes and went down’. The first person I met was Paul and then I met the team. We had formed a circle and I asked the coach if I could speak to the players. Paul said yes and that was when I started speaking to them.

I was talking to them in Hindi. I spoke for about 45-50 seconds and told them that ‘your performance needs to be consistent. You had defeated Australia in Australia. You need to be more consistent as you guys are playing together for four years now. Nobody likes to lose, not even the sponsors. So you need to be winning more’.

My next sentence would have been that forget about all the previous matches and concentrate on the upcoming games and try to be in the final. But before I could finish, Paul intervened and said ‘I am the coach and you leave’. His tone was pretty rude.

Then I left, saying that ‘we will talk about this later, we need to talk about this, Paul’. After that India played two more matches, even the women’s team was playing, I watched those matches but Paul never had the time to come to me or ask for any time.”

It is a foregone conclusion that if Van Ass’ ouster is ratified, Indian hockey, in all probability, will have an Indian coach till the Rio Olympics.

From cricket to basketball to soccer, sports federations in India have opted to hire foreign coaches to fill the lacunae between what locals can offer and what internationals bring to the table.

That it also helps counter allegations of parochialism and regionalism dogging the appointment of local candidates is besides the point.

I am not going to argue the merits or demerits of either policy.

What Indian hockey does not need is a stop-gap measure wherein a candidate steps in and molds the side till the Olympics and is then either lionized or made the sacrificial lamb depending on the results achieved.

Continuity has to be the name of the game.

And it would help even further, if recognised coaches were introduced at all levels starting from the sub-juniors to the seniors so that players are grounded in the basics at the right age.

The seniors may grab the headlines and the glory but it’s the youngsters who are hockey’s future and they need to be told in no uncertain terms that they are not being handed step-motherly treatment until they are done weaning.




Paul Van Ass is sacked to salve Batra’s ego

Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra is at it again.

This time, it’s Paul Van Ass—the latest incumbent in the chief coach’s hot seat.

Terry Walsh, the previous coach, was unceremoniously dumped by Sports Authority of India (SAI) following Batra’s allegations of financial impropriety.

His replacement, Van Ass, stepped in to prevent a dressing down of his players during the Hockey World League in Belgium following their quarter-final win against Malaysia.

This did not go down well with the HI chief.

The result—a sacked Van Ass.

Indian hockey loses yet another coach and Van Ass’ experiment with Total Hockey ends prematurely.

Indian Hockey is poorer from this rapid-fire chopping and changing of coaching personnel. The churn in support personnel is probably more than within the side itself.

Viren Rasquinha, former India player and CEO of Olympic Gold Quest, commented:

“It doesn’t matter whether the next coach is an Indian or foreigner. When we ask ourselves about our new coach, there are two things that we need to know. One, who are the people who can coach our team. And secondly, the most important question is that who will want to come here knowing that there is absolutely no job security.

How can we give a team in transition a chance to move forward when the coach keeps changing? A new coach brings his own ideas. He goes out, another idea comes in. We don’t need that.

We are now running out of options. There are not many people who are available. What we need to realise is that every new coach needs a certain amount of time to settle in. He will take a few months to know the system, the players and the situation that they find themselves in. Starting from scratch is a new coach’s biggest problem and it seems to be happening on a far too regular basis here.”

Rasquinha added:

“The performances in Antwerp were bad. You look at the participating teams there and you wouldn’t be satisfied with a fourth place performance. We scraped through against France, beating Poland 3-0 was expected.

Pakistan didn’t play full strength and yet we drew 2-2. But what shocked everyone was the 15 goals we conceded in the next three games against Australia (2-6), Belgium (0-4) and Great Britain (1-5). I don’t remember the last time an Indian team conceded that many goals in three games.”

Terry Walsh reacted thus:

“I’m not surprised. This must be the next part of the puzzle.”

He added:

“I’m saddened by what I see and hear. I don’t know what transpired between them (Batra and Van Ass) but I believe HI is simply not in sync with what’s going on globally.

I’m not saying that Van Ass or myself are the best fit, but it’s incredibly important from the point of view of not just Indian hockey but world hockey, that HI give a better account of themselves and what they do and how they do it because whatever they are doing is inappropriate.

When I was India coach, I tried to establish a greater say for the High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans. I wasn’t asking anything for myself, but was only trying to get better protocol, where people who knew what they were doing were making the decisions rather than people who didn’t. But now it’s people, who don’t understand what’s required at the international level, who are making decisions again. This is a case of ego vs common sense.

I watched India play at the HWL in Belgium and felt very sad. They’ve lost quite a bit and I can’t blame them because they’ve been pushed through a series of cultural changes with so many coaches in and out. Brasa brought in European knowledge and tried to club it with the Asian style. After him, Nobbs spent a lot of time doing nothing. Then, I mixed the Australian and Asian style. Now, Van Ass brought in the European model again. Spare a thought for the lads who are forced to cope with all this. Consequently, Indian hockey is deteriorating with each passing month.” 

India’s recent performances especially at the Asian Games where the team won gold and thus qualified directly for the 2016 Rio Olympics has Indian fans hoping that there will be a podium finish in the offing next year.

These hopes may be belied.

The gap between top international sides  and the also-rans is yawning.

India is ranked ninth; Australia, Netherlands,Germany, Belgium and England are in the top five.

The results speak for themselves. Unless the men’s hockey team can beat the best of the best on a consistent basis and in tournament play and not bilateral series where coaches field experimental sides, dreams of a medal are just that.

Discontinuity in coaching personnel and playing styles can only worsen the prognosis.

The clash of egos off the field only foretell more misery for Team India on it.

Viren Rasquinha: What he said, really meant and definitely didn’t

Viren Rasquinha unveils his plan for stakeholder management.

What he said:

“I feel when there are such problems, all the stakeholders – be it Hockey India, Terry Walsh, sports ministry, SAI – you have to lock them up in a room, let them sit across the table and trash out all these issues.”

Former India hockey skipper and COO of Olympic Gold Quest, Viren Rasquinha, is hopeful that AussieTerry Walsh will return to coach the Indian side. Walsh resigned his post after his demands for a greater say in team decisions and the ability to pick his own support staff were turned down by Hockey India (HI) and Sports Authority of India (SAI).

The Indian hockey team has turned in stellar performances under Walsh’s guidance in the past year. The highlights are a Commonwealth Games silver, an Asiad gold ensuring direct qualification for Rio 2016 and a 3-1 series victory over Australia Down Under.

Rasquinha said:

“I am hopeful that he comes back. If you look at the overall results, he has done a wonderful job. The players are playing much better hockey. Leave aside the results, but in terms of the quality of hockey, their play has been very good.”

He added:

“It’s just so sad. I’m tired of speaking about it. I feel when there are such problems, all the stakeholders – be it Hockey India, Terry Walsh, sports ministry, SAI – you have to lock them up in a room, let them sit across the table and trash out all these issues. We should finally see everything for the good of Indian hockey. Good things are happening in Indian hockey for the last eight months and we should try our best to make sure that it continues.”

What Rasquinha really meant:

“And if they can’t resolve them, we should just throw away the key to the room.”

What he definitely didn’t:

“And while they’re at it, can we have some tea, coffee and snacks for the gentlemen? Terry Walsh can video-conference in, if he feels like it.”

Bolting Indian Hockey players (Satire)

Usain Bolt Crystal Palace Meeting in 2007


The Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India (HI) have received  urgent faxes  from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)  and Athletics Federation of India (AFI) requesting access to their training methods.

The appeal follows a report in the Hindustan Times that Indian hockey players are masters of the short sprint, able to cover 10 metres in a minimum time of 1.57 seconds. This beats Usain Bolt’s existing record of 1.89 by a whopping margin.

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