Sunday, January 16, 2005

Its hard to say goodbye if you wont leave

The best piece of news I have heard in 2005 has been that of the retirement plans of KPS Gill. In case you didn't know, Mr. Gill began his career as a police officer in the state of Assam, quickly earning a reputation as a tough officer. He became a household name across the country as Punjab police chief in the early 1990s, when he was credited with crushing a separatist revolt in the state. Why do I hate him then? Well, for the past fifteen years Mr. Gill has been the head of an organization that has done brilliantly well in ruining our national sport. Its not often that a country produces world champions year after year in the junior editions of the sport and lacks successes in the main editions. However, the incompetency of the Indian Hockey Federation has made sure of just that.

One of the most interesting stories describing aptly the pathetic state of Indian Hockey is that of Rajeev Mishra. As a young forward Rajeev dazzled his way through the junior world cup in Milton Keynes in the nineties stunning other coaches with his breathtaking speed and fantastic ball handling abilities. India won the tournament and he was touted as the next big thing. What happened next? He got himself injured, missed one year because of lack of specialist treatment and was thrown out of the senior squad. Last heard he was a ticket collector in a train in UP.

Repeated mess-ups with coaches, bust-ups with leading players, lack of any planning, punishing training camps before the Olympics have characterized his tenure. India has now fallen behind countries like Argentina, Spain, South Korea and New Zealand as well. Instead of a well-established coach he went and got an unknown in Gerard Rach a month before the Olympics. Rach has now resigned, it will be interesting to see who Gill gets. I hope it's a good foreign coach. (heard Ric Charlesworth is interested) A coach who can mould this Indian side into a competitive team in time for Beijing-08.

The introduction of the Premier Hockey League definitely has changed things a bit, but to ensure its success the league needs to be spread out and held in all cities where the teams are based. I can't wait for the day when I can actually head to the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium (with Varun and the gang) to support Chennai Veerans (maybe then I will understand how soccer fans feel about clubs based in their city). Its important for the game that the league grows, that there is a great rivalry and more importantly that the corporate world and the public take to the game and to ensure that the PHL needs to constantly reinvent itself every year.

Gill has assured the public that he won't be changing his mind. He has done this before only to let us down by staying put. I hope he sticks to his word this time and quits. Maybe that will kick start Indian Hockey.

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