Sports in India are truly larger than life. We forget ourselves and literally live in the game when our team is playing. Players are idolized and skippers become fearless leaders. We revel at the latter’s success and break down when they fail. This is especially true with our national game: hockey. As the saying goes, “it’s darkest before dawn”, Indian hockey too awaits a new dawn; more than ever after its catastrophic London trip. Be it the addition of a new player, a new mentor, or even a new skipper, the hockey lovers of this country await a new chapter, a fresh start.
Being part of the final squad and then being bestowed with the captain’s armband of the Indian hockey team is like leading life at the edge of a knife. A small mistake as a captain is punished with harsh criticism, even an eye catching pass to one of your on field strikers, leading to a goal, is ignored. On the other hand, captaincy is a commendation and an honour Not everyone can deal with this responsibility with grace and humility. What our hockey team needs is to forget the London disaster, wake up afresh and march ahead with positive energy as we take on the kookaburras in their own backyard first for the few Test matches and then for the FIH Men’s Champions Trophy, and later in the year, the Asian Champion’s Trophy Men in Doha.
What makes one a good captain?
He should be able to show that he can handle the responsibility and trust shown towards him, should be dedicated and selfless; his interests should be towards the development of the team. He is the one who commands respect in all situations, the one who should stay positive, lead by example and possess great knowledge of the game. Yes, a captain must know the techniques and strategies employed in the game and to be able communicate with the coach clearly during the course of the game, either to change the formation or deploy an extra defender in the place of a worn out player. Last but not the least; a captain should be approachable, for he is next to the coach. A good captain is always a connecting bridge between the players and the coaches.
A man who needs no introduction. This DSP from Punjab has one of the best drag flickers in the world. We all know his stupendous performance in the Olympic Qualifiers, which booked us a London flight. As a relentless fighter familiar with international happenings, Sandeep Singh can surely merge the much needed communication gap and lead from the front.
Currently one of the finest players in the world, Sardar singh, a DSP from Haryana is the youngest player ever to captain India and no longer a second choice for the job. As needed, this man has all the qualities that a skipper should possess. With the past experience of leading the team to a silver medal way back in 2008 at the Sultan Azlan Shah Hockey tournament, I personally appeal to one and all to pick this man as captain.
Although the above mentioned are eligible for the post, I feel a custodian can be an even better captain. Yes, he is the one who is watching the game from the best seat in the stadium and can have better idea of what’s happening with the team and the opposition. Well, many questions lie answered. Of all the contenders, V R Raghunath, P R Sreejesh might just be well suited to be a good leader.
Lastly, if we fail to reform the game, we will only be able to bemoan our reality.