Winds of change are blowing across Indian hockey in the aftermath of the Olympic qualifiers debacle.
The Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) has sacked the selection committee headed by former India captain Harmeek Singh and set up a technical committee of three Olympians to act as a bridge between its technical advisor Ric Charlesworth and the senior team’s coaching staff.
Former India captain MP Ganesh will now lead the committee that also includes Olympians MM Somayya, Iqbaljit Singh, Edward Alousis and Charles Cornelius. The IHF has not made an official announcement regarding the two committees but a statement is expected soon.
Charlesworth has been asked to interact with the committee comprising Olympians Merwyn Fernandes, Somayya and Vasudevan Baskaran.
The panel will evaluate his suggestions and then pass them on to the senior men’s coaching staff led by chief coach Joaquim Carvalho.
The decision to set up the technical committee seems a result of lessons learnt from the recent controversy over Charlesworth not being involved in the Olympic qualifiers in Santiago.
Though the IHF seems on sound ground on this issue as Charlesworth has till then not signed a contract with the Sports Authority of India and officially taken over his responsibility, some of the statements by Charlesworth himself and Bob Davidson, project director, Promoting Indian Hockey, have raised heckles in IHF circles.
“The committee will go through the suggestions put forth by Charlesworth and select those that would benefit Indian hockey. We have to take into account the conditions in India and the problems associated with it before accepting Charlesworth’s advice,” said a senior IHF source.
The source said the IHF has booted out the selection committee comprising Harmeek Singh, Gurbux Singh, BP Govinda and SS Sodhi to bring new ideas in the selection process. The fifth member of the committee, Ajitpal Singh, who is the government observer, may also go as the IHF has conveyed its desire for a change to the government.
The new committee will be meeting soon to pick the team for the four-nation event in Australia that would be held from April 23 in Perth and Darwin.
Skipper Prabodh Tirkey is all set to miss the tournament in Australia because of the recurrence of an old back problem. Tirkey, who has led the team since Carvalho took over, has been advised rest for a month and half. Prabodh would have been among the most experienced members of the team in the absence of seniors like Dilip Tirkey, Bimal Lakra and Arjun Halappa, who withdrew from the camp for personal reasons.
In his absence, Prabhjot Singh or Sardara Singh may get the mantle of captaincy. Prabhjot, who had pulled out of the camp to appear for exams, is expected to return by Thursday.