Hockey coach Harendra Singh removed from post, but he feels he's still in charge

Updated: Jan 10, 2019, 11:13 IST | Ashwin Ferro |

Hockey India recommends sacking of Harendra Singh, but defiant coach says he is still in-charge

Harendra Singh
Harendra Singh

Hockey coach Harendra Singh believes he is still in-charge of the men's team and will continue to be so until he is "formally informed otherwise by either Hockey India or the Sports Authority of India [SAI]." Yesterday, Hockey India recommended to reassign Dronacharya awardee Harendra Singh as the coach for the Indian junior men's hockey team.

Harendra sounded very calm while speaking to mid-day from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh yesterday, where he has been invited as speaker at the Banaras Hindu University's Leadership Summit.

"I have not been removed or sacked. It's only a recommendation. It's now up to my employers, Sports Authority of India to take the final call. I should get some formal intimation saying something like 'your services are not required' or something like that and I would like to see the reason [for the sacking], if it happens. But as of now, I have not even been spoken to once by anyone from Hockey India or SAI since the World Cup [November 28 to December 16]," he said.

Harendra Singh
Harendra Singh

Tough seven-month stay
Harendra stepped into the senior men's coaching role earlier this year with the expectation that he would deliver a gold medal at the Asian Games (August 18 to September 2) to ensure a direct berth for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Defending champions India could only manage bronze. Then, at the November-December FIH World Cup, a top-four finish or better was expected in Odisha. But World No. 5 India were beaten in the quarters by eventual finalists the Netherlands.

According to the Hockey India statement, the recommendation for 2016 Junior Hockey World Cup-winning coach Harendra's return to the junior coaching role has been done "with a vision and emphasis on building a strong player base ahead of the 2021 Junior World Cup and the 2020, 2024 Olympic Games." However, Harendra does not see the need for anyone to replace current junior India coach Jude Felix as the team have been performing well under him.

Positive philosophy
Harendra remained his philosophical self despite what seems to be an uncertain hockey future. "I'm not one to comment on selection or appointment issues, but I always knew that the moment I stepped into the men's coaching role, my days were numbered, just like it has been for all previous coaches. I don't know what the future holds but I'm a professional and a very positive person.

"I strongly believe in Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan's words, 'mann ka ho toh achcha, na ho toh zyaada achcha, kyun ki phir wo Ishwar ke mann ka hota hai, aur Ishwar aap ka hamesha achcha chahega [if it happens as per your will, then good. If not, then better because then it's as per God's will and God will always wish good things for you," he concluded.

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