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‘India will win a hockey Olympic medal in 2020’
Sakal Times | Monday, 19 January 2015 AT 11:31 PM IST
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Pune: India’s former national hockey coach Michael Nobbs is bullish about India’s hockey future and is confident that the team will win an Olympic medal in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Nobbs, who was interacting with Sakal Times journalists at their Shivajinagar office as a part of the Sakal Times-Gupshup series on Monday, was even ready to bet 1,000 dollars on his prediction.

“From the current crop of players, you need to retire the older ones and give time and space to the better players from the junior side. The talent pool has to get replenished on a regular basis and that is the only way to improve the capability of the team,” Nobbs said.

According to Nobbs, Hockey India needs to take tough decisions. “Sardar (Singh) should not be playing in Indian team for the Olympics now. His time is over and there are at least 2-3 players who can take his place,” Nobbs said. The Australian hockey Olympian, who is credited with infusing new ideas in building the Indian hockey team after a series of non-performances in early 2011, said that the talent is not limited to certain countries only. “Talent is available everywhere, you need to harness it. If I have to compare junior hockey players, the Indian juniors are much better than the Aussies, but the important thing is what happens after that,” Nobbs said.

The Australian, who is working for an Australian synthetic turf company, is on a whistle-stop India visit to scout for grounds where synthetic turfs can be installed. Even after been unceremoniously removed as India’s hockey coach, Nobbs has always remained in touch with Indian hockey, which he calls “the spiritual game of India.”

The Indian hockey team is still without a coach after Terry Walsh quit after steering India to an Asian Games gold in Incheon, S Korea.

Nobbs wondered why the hockey administration was looking outside when the country had 2-3 good coaches who have learnt the science of hockey under him early on and then from Walsh in recent years.

“It is time India should try a home-grown coach till the Rio 2016 Olympics. India has already qualified for the Rio 2016 Olympics by winning the Asian Games 2014 gold. They are not under pressure to play for an Olympic berth in the World League. The best way is to give the reins either to Harender Singh (junior coach) or MK Kaushik (former women’s coach).

“Having a good team at their disposal, this is a great opportunity to test and give exposure to an Indian coach. With barely 18 months for Rio, no coach will have time to make a big impact on a  settled team,” he added.

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