For the first time in the history of Indian hockey, a foreigner has been appointed team manager for the Olympics. But what is seen as a tactical appointment for the London event has left a couple of senior Hockey India officials bitterly complaining that the job should’ve gone to an Indian.
India return to the Olympics after eight years and face a huge challenge in their bid for a podium finish. The federation thus named the team’s Australian exercise physiologist David John as manager so that he can sit on the bench and help compatriot and chief coach Michael Nobbs rotate the players. However, the move has not gone down well, two senior HI officials have shot off a letter to secretary general, Narinder Batra, protesting the appointment of a foreigner.
Voices of dissent
HI vice-president, Pratap Satpathy, also general secretary of the Orissa association, wrote to Batra on June 15 opposing the decision.
“To the best of my knowledge, since Independence, the Indian hockey (federation) had never appointed a foreign national as manager of the Olympic team. A manager to me is the ambassador of the country,” Satpathy said in the letter and dubbed John’s appointment an insult to millions of Indians. “Will it not be embarrassing to watch a foreigner leading our hockey team? Are we setting a precedent?” he asked. “I have reservations against this appointment and register this as my strong protest.”
Even during the British rule, the Indian hockey team had an Indian manager at the Olympics. Swami Jagannath was the manager at the 1936 Berlin Olympics.
A HI senior vice-president, TP Sinha, who heads the Jharkhand association, has also registered his protest. “As regards the appointment of a foreign national, I totally agree with Satpathy,” Sinha wrote to Batra.