Reports: Former Indian hockey captain Dhanraj Pillay expresses desire to become head coach
Just as news of Paul van Ass’ sacking filtered through, former Indian national hockey team captain, Dhanraj Pillay has reportedly expressed his desire to coach the team. In an interview with DNA India, the legendary forward added fuel to the speculations suggesting that the Indian team needs an Indian coach.
Paul van Ass alleged he was sacked by Hockey India, who had sent a letter to SAI to confirm the news. However, both the sides are giving contradicting reports and amidst all the confusion, the 47-year-old manager of the Indian hockey team has put his name forward in the list of possible replacements for the Dutchman.
He mentioned that he has talked to Hockey India (HI) President Batra over the phone, where he mentioned that the time is ripe for an Indian coach to take over the reins and got a positive response from the chief of Indian hockey.
“I called Batra yesterday (Monday) after all this happened and told him that it was time they considered an Indian for the coach's job,” Pillay told DNA. “Batra sounded very positive about the idea of an Indian coach. He told me that they will definitely think of an Indian coach now.”
Batra confirmed the news to DNA, saying, “Yes, he (Pillay) did call me and we had a chat about this. We will take all decisions after that meeting on July 24.”
Only an Indian coach can understand the Indian players: Pillay
The 47-year-old has been a proponent of an Indian coaching the senior men’s team and has voiced his opinion plenty of times before, most recently before Paul van Ass’ appointment early this year.
“Even before HI appointed Paul van Ass in January, I had written a mail to Batra and asked him to read my mail before making any decision,” Pillay recalled.
There has been speculation that Hockey India High-Performance Director Roelant Oltmans will take over from Van Ass till the 2016 Olympics. However, Pillay is against that idea of Oltmans leaving overseeing of the team and taking over the coaching.
“If that happens, I'll be very disappointed,” Pillay said in the same interview. “He is the high-performance director, he needs to see the development of Indian hockey. He can only be with the team, not coach them.
Asked if one year was too less for a coach to come in and adjust, Pillay refuted the idea saying it is more than enough time. He said that only an Indian can understand wht the Indian players go through and can help them better than a foreigner.
“Look, barely three months before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the IHF (Indian Hockey Federation) brought in Gerard Rach. He went immediately after that. So one year is more than enough for any Indian coach,” he said.
“If you see now, what have they done in five months? How can you say Indian coaches won't do anything? We have a year's time, and I've always said that only an Indian coach can understand the Indian players' upbringing, mentality and thinking.”
Dutchman Paul van Ass follows German Gerard Rach, Spaniard Jose Brasa, Australian Michael Nobbs as the foreign coaches to have parted ways with the Indian team.