Indian hockey's troubles magnify after Michael Nobbs' sacking

As per reports, Michael Nobbs claimed yesterday that he had not been sacked as the coach of the Indian men’s hockey team. He insisted he had resigned owing to his poor health.

Michael Nobbs
India’s former coach Michael Nobbs. PIC/AFP

On the other hand, Narinder Batra, the secretary of Hockey India, said that the Aussie had put in his papers as he was not satisfied with the progress he had made with the side.

Whatever be the case, the simple fact remains that Indian hockey, which is battling for survival in a country that once lorded over the sport, has been plunged into fresh crisis after it was announced that Nobbs’s contract had been terminated by Sports Authority of India (SAI) on Hockey India’s (HI) suggestion.

India fared poorly at the FIH World League Round Three, finishing sixth and missing out on a direct qualification berth for the 2014 World Cup in Rotterdam. Given the current scenario, India must triumph at the Asia Cup in Ipoh next month to make it to the premier competition.

But looking at their recent form, the team has a mountain to climb. India’s High Performance Director, Roelant Oltmans has been asked to guide the side along with MK Kaushik who returns to the fold after three years, and they certainly have a massive challenge up their sleeves.

For the statistically inclined, Nobbs became the fourth foreigner after Gerhard Rach, Ric Charlesworth and Jose Brasa to quit their positions without leaving much of an imprint and it remains to be seen what path Hockey India follows from now on.

Batra hit the nail on the head when he told IANS: “We realised that the team was not progressing. SAI and HI felt that the team was stuck at one place and to move forward we are looking for new ideas, and so we decided to part ways with Nobbs.”

Wholesale changes?
But their real challenge starts now with wholesale changes likely in the set-up as far as the support staff is concerned. It remains to be seen whether Clarence Lobo and Mohammad Riyaz, who were assisting Nobbs, will hold on to their positions.  According to sources, the physiotherapist of the team, Shrikant Iyengar is keen to go in for higher studies and may vacate his position.

What they said

Nobbs was weak with his strategy and it was most visible with his actions during the Olympics. I would say Brasa (Jose) was much better
— Rajpal Singh

This sacking should have come much earlier. It is a step in the right direction
— Ajitpal Singh

One can’t call him a good coach. A good coach is someone who reads the game well. But India’s performance went down under him
— Joaquim Carvalho

The best coach in the world will be no good if you don’t have a system in place. We have no structure at the grassroots level. I don’t see Indian hockey improving with the current management
— Pargat Singh

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