Not often are coaches younger than their players. But then, not often do they become coaches at 17. Jose Manuel Brasa has been there, done that.
Some 38 years later, Brasa has landed a job where the stakes are slightly higher than that assignment with his university hockey team. The 55-year-old has to rectify the expectation mismatch that hits India almost every time their men's hockey team plays.
Getting India back on track is difficult but not impossible, he told Hindustan Times during an exclusive interview in Pune where he is preparing the team for next month's tour of Europe.
What kind of pressure comes with a task as challenging as this?
There is no pressure. The task is difficult but not impossible. There are some very talented players in India but they need to improve their tactical understanding. The players need to adapt to modern hockey. I am not bothered about the results now. I just want to build the team as a fighting unit.
And how do you plan to do that?
For the players, it will be like going back to kindergarten. They will undergo a lot of hard training using scientific methods.
Normally what happens in India is that players are taught basic skills and then everyone does the same amount of work to stay fit. This should not be the case. Each player is different and therefore the amount of work he needs to do is also different.
We will give them specific amount of work and set daily and weekly targets. In India, players get tagged for particular area of field. A forward does not fall back to help the defence and similarly, the backs don't contribute a lot in attack. We have to change this mindset. A player should be able to change positions.
You had sought some training equipment after signing the contract, but they have not been approved.
Some of the equipment has been bought and some more will be arranged soon. I know, things take time here and I have to be patient.
You’ve said the Asian Games next year is your target. What about the World Cup before that?
We can be 100 per cent fit at the World Cup and we should put up a good fight there. I can assure of good results only at the Asian Games - that is my real target.
But Indians want quick results…
Well, that is not possible. I am not a magician to change things in seconds.
Your expectations from the European tour next month?
This tour was planned before I took over although I don't think we need to play matches now.
But we will take this tour as part of our overall preparation. In future, I hope to have more say in setting the calendar. If I have to deliver, I must have a say in decision making.