The quiet exits of Indian assistant hockey coaches
Coaches come and go but the game never stops. Talking of Indian hockey one growing trend witnessed over the last one year has the ‘quiet exit and arrival’ of assistant coaches of the national men’s hockey team. Take the instance of former Indian striker Tushar Khandker, who recently joined the national team for the ongoing European tour (to France and Spain). It may be worth recalling that Tushar’s playing days are far from over as he regularly turns out for his employers Bharat Petroleum in domestic tourneys (we still don’t know what the selectors have in mind as far as fielding him as a player is concerned).
He was never picked in the national team after the 2012 London Olympics and was among six to be dumped after the London disaster, two among them – Shivendra Singh and Gurbaj Singh – have staged a comeback to the national fold. In fact, Tushar along with goalie Bharat Chetri, Ignace Tirkey and Sarvanjit Singh are yet to get a national call-up since last playing in the 2012 London Olympics. . He has linked up with another assistant coach Sandeep Sangwan for the European tour.
It caught many by surprise when Tushar was named the coach of junior men’s team as deputy to head junior coach Harendra Singh last year (April 2014 to be precise) – on that occasion, an announcement was made in public domain about his new role. But he joining the national senior men’s team went ‘unnoticed’. Tushar joined the national team camp in Shilaroo for the ongoing European tour and one is not sure whether his arrival as assistant coach was triggered by the resignation of former India captain Jude Felix.
Even in the case of Felix, his stepping down came to light only because of some inquisitive scribes, who brought out this story, or else it could have been another ‘quiet’ exit. Of course, Jude left on good terms with Hockey India as family issues prompted him to return to Bengaluru (has to take care of ageing mother).
These are not the only instances of Indian team’s assistance coaches making a quiet exit. It may be worth recalling that former India captain Vasudevan Bhaskaran was appointed as assistant coach of the national men’s team and nobody was quite sure ‘when’ and ‘why’ he was relieved of his duties. He was there in his job for barely three or four months. It was only a few months later that it came to light that ill health was a reason for his exit. And who can forget MK Kaushik, who was appointed as assistant coach in 2013 and no one really knew when he left job – the 2014 Asian Games was his last stint as an assistant coach.
“Hockey India must inform when an assistant coach is dropped and cite the reasons for it. Such lack of information about exit of assistant coaches does not send out a right message. Apprising all and sundry about a coaching quitting is routine stuff, so why shirk from announcing it – after all coaches come and go – all part of the job,” said a former international player.
One hopes the ‘quiet’ exits of Indian assistant coaches must come to a ‘full stop’ and from now on we get to hear about not just appointment of new coaches but also their exits.