Close on the heels of the junior Indian hockey team’s title triumph at the sixth Asia Cup in Hyderabad, the Indian Olympic Association’s ad-hoc committee officials for hockey are planning to rope in International Hockey Federation (FIH) coaching projects manager, Tayyab Ikram, to give a fillip to the sport in the country.
A top ranking official said on condition of anonymity that plans were afoot to cash in on Ikram's 20 years of professional and coaching experience to ‘energise’ Indian hockey.
Ikram has also served as coach of Pakistan and China. “He understands Asian hockey and being from the sub-continent (he played for Lahore in the late 70s and early 80s), he will be an expert hand to help in the development of the sport,” the source said.
“We will ask the FIH if he can work in co-ordination with Bob Davidzon, project director of the FIH-backed Promoting Indian Hockey,” the source added.
“Ikram has conducted three Sports Authority of India's (SAI) coaching seminars and some 70-odd officials have benefitted from it… so it's a great idea to have him on board as he would be better placed to understand our players as he speaks the our language,” he said.
“We will also ask him to look for a foreign expert, preferably a technical expert. But as for as getting a coach for the team is concerned we are arriving at a consensus on MK Kaushik.
He has been a successful coach, guiding India to gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. Moreover, most former players and ad-hoc committee members have agreed on him,” the sources said, adding that former captain Dhanraj Pillay was not in the scheme of things for now.
“We also discussed former Malaysian coach Paul Lissek's name for the coach's job but felt age was not on the German's side.
“For now, our line of thinking is that the coach should be an Indian, whereas the technical expert should be a foreigner.”9
India have been without a national coach since the Azlan Shah Cup in May and with the departure of FIH consultant Ric Charlesworth — who was reportedly asking for an astronomical sum of Rs 14 crore per annum — the country has been without an expert.
Indian hockey officials are wary of the “negative” reports being sent by Davidzon to FIH bosses and feel if Ikram becomes part of the ‘Promoting Indian Hockey’ project, there would at least be someone to give a positive feedback to the FIH.
Several tournaments lined up
The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) is planning to give a major push to hockey with IOA secretary-general, Randhir Singh, saying India would be hosting a clutch of elite tournaments in the coming years.
“The FIH has noticed a decline in Asian hockey and wants it to come at par with Europe. So, they are concentrating on India,” he said.
“We have planned an elite tournament of Asian countries where the top four from the continent — India, Pakistan, South Korea and Malaysia — will take part in the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy proposed next year.
The dates and venue are yet to be decided, but we are sure we will be able to host it successfully,” said Randhir, who is also a member of the IOA's ad-hoc committee for hockey.
“The FIH has also left it to us when we want to host the elite six-nation Champions Trophy… We plan to host it in 2011,” he said, adding the two tournaments along with the 2010 World Cup, to be held in New Delhi, would form the roadmap for India's participation in the 2012 Olympic Games in London.