India hockey coach Michael Nobbs slams blue turf

India hockey coach Michael Nobbs yesterday criticised the newly-introduced blue turf once again on the team’s arrival at the Olympic Village in London. The Australian said he failed to understand why the London Olympics organisers decided to hold the competition on such “a slow and bouncy surface” and further even went on to say that the traditional green playing surface was the better option anytime.  “During the tour (of Spain) we played on blue turf and let me tell you some interesting facts have come up. None of the teams we played during the tour could convert most of the penalty corners (including ourselves). We could convert only three of the 33 penalty corners,” Nobbs said. 

India’s Tushar Khandker (left) vies for the ball with Great Britain’s Ashley Jackson during a four-nation tournament at the Riverbank Arena in London recently. In its maiden appearance on the new blue surface, India lost 0-3 to Australia, 2-4 to Great Britain and 1-2 to Germany.  Pic/AFP

“The turf is made by the same company with same colour but it played differently at different places. Each turf has different characteristics depending on the climatic conditions. In France we played on green turf which was fast while blue turf was slow and bouncy. I don’t know why this turf has been introduced. I can only guess that blue being one of the Olympic colour, they have introduced it (in London Olympics),” added Nobbs. Hockey at the London Games will be played on the new blue turf at the Riverbank Arena, where India recently played a four-nation warm-up tournament and didn’t enjoy the experience. India first lost 0-3 to Australia, followed by a 2-4 defeat to Great Britain and then a 1-2 loss to Germany in London. 

Coach Michael Nobbs

Nobbs is not alone in criticising the surface. His Australian counterpart Ric Charlesworth too has openly criticised the blue turf since its recent introduction in world hockey given its uneven and slower nature. Speaking of his team’s strengths and weaknesses, Nobbs admitted the Indians lacked good finishing and believed if they could convert their chances, things could surely brighten up in London.

“If only we are able to convert the chances that come our way, the story will be different and I am not talking of half chances here. This team sure has some good attackers, our attack rate is superb but we still lack good finishing and that is the big problem,” he said. About the field in the Games, Nobbs said: “If you take out two teams Australia and Germany (No 1 and 2), there is not much difference between the remaining 10 teams. Mind you, in these Games you have 12 best hockey teams of the planet.”

Nobbs, however, refused to predict a result for his team. “No coach worth his salt will be able to predict the result. That is beauty of the sport. But I hope we finish somewhere in the middle of the pack, anything better will be simply great. Boys are fired up. I promise they would give everything possible in the matches,” he said.  

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