Indian men's hockey team coach Graham Reid has mentioned that there is a lot of talent waiting in the wings at the grassroots level in India. He added that the work being done by Hockey India and the Indian Government has given a fillip to the sport.
Graham Reid shared his views on the growth of Indian hockey over the last few years in an exclusive chat with Indranil Basu on Sportskeeda Live.
On being asked if the only difference between sub-continental and European style of hockey was the skill in the former and the pace in the latter, Graham Reid responded that each team has their specific skills.
"I have found out that each of the countries have their specific skills. It is hard to say whether Australia is more skilful or the Dutch, I feel they all have their own skills."
The Olympic silver-medallist with the Australian team mentioned that the Kangaroos were strong in their basics, while the Indian team had dribbling skills as their forte.
"India is very much traditional and dribbling skills whereas the Australian team is very good with their basics. I think to win Olympic Games and World Cups, you need to have the world's best basics."
Graham Reid underlined that the basics are the most essential part of the game, and that the skills can be developed over time.
"We talk a lot about that within the group. As players, we tend to do the fancy stuff, I call it Bollywood stuff but unfortunately or fortunately the real fruit is in those basics. If you can do them well, then you can build the skills on top of that."
On being asked how he keeps the talented youngsters motivated when they are not performing well, Graham Reid mentioned that the current Indian hockey team is a confident lot with quite a few members from the junior World Cup-winning team.
"That's always a difficult one. Certainly with this group that we have now with the Indian team, I think there in an underlying belief there because they have won the junior World Cup."
He added that the experience of playing in the Hockey India League has benefited the youngsters a lot as well.
"You can't underestimate the benefits that Hockey India League had with a fair number of this group as well. You add to that the experience of the coaches that a majority of this group has had over the last few years."
Graham Reid opined that this blend of this confidence and experience has helped the Indian team in overcoming the setbacks.
"You put that all together, it has many different authors, what you see from that is the ability of these guys to be flexible. When things aren't going well, you are always looking at different ways to do it."
"And they have now the belief that they can build on and also a bit more of that experience. When you blend those two together, so when things aren't going well there is a plan to get out of that."
Graham Reid on the changes in Indian hockey
Graham Reid was further asked if the Indian hockey team has a similar policy of promoting young talent like their cricketing counterparts.
"Hockey India is doing a lot of work in the underpinning environments and the Government is also coming into the folds with the 2024 and 2028 targets with Khelo India and things like that", responded the Indian coach.
Graham Reid added that there is immense talent waiting to be tapped in Indian hockey.
"Those things are quite exciting for the sport. We are doing a lot of work in coaching the coaches and trying to bring that base level up. Lots of countries would kill for the talent that is lying under the surface in India."
Graham Reid highlighted that the Hockey India League has brought about a drastic change in Indian hockey from his playing days to the current times.
"That was the great thing about Hockey India League. It opened everything up. It certainly made our Indian guys realise that Australians and Dutch players are also human and you can beat them, you can train with them and perform just as well as them."
Graham Reid expressed happiness at the revival of the sport of hockey in India, with more international tournaments being played in the country along with the increased fan following.
"One of the good things we have seen in the last few years is that hockey is coming back to India, we are seeing lots of international games being played here and you are also seeing a little awakening of the sport again from the public point of view."
On being asked how he saw each of the positions in the Indian team, Graham Reid responded that there are no apparent weaknesses and emphasised on the importance of converting all the chances into goals.
"I don't think there are too many weaknesses. As a coach you are always looking for more goals. I would love our guys to be better goal-scorers. We will be working a lot on that, that every time when we can create an opportunity we put it away."
Graham Reid added that defensive prowess is equally important to get the ball possession from the opposition.
"Defensively we have done a lot of work in the last 12 months on their tackling and we will be certainly be doing that again in this next period. I love playing attacking hockey, but you also need to get the ball away from the opposition to be able to score."
The Indian men's hockey team under Graham Reid had made a bright start to the year 2020. They defeated a strong Netherlands in both the matches of the FIH Pro League and followed that up with fighting performances against the World Champions Belgium.
The Indian team won the first match against the Belgians but lost a close second encounter. The icing on the cake was the Indian captain Manpreet Singh being named the FIH Men's Player of the Year and the young Vivek Sagar Prasad getting the 2019 FIH Male Rising Star of the Year award.