Indian hockey may be headed for a battle of the sexes. On Wednesday, MK Kaushik — for long considered a talisman by the Indian women's team in addition to being coach — was appointed chief coach of the senior men's hockey team. And that appointment has the Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF) officials seriously ticked off.
The poaching of Kaushik issue will top the agenda at the IWHF's annual general meeting in New Delhi on Saturday. The IWHF has taken strong exception to Wednesday's reported statement of the men's ad hoc selection committee chief, Ajit Pal Singh, that a new coach for the women's team would be selected soon in consultation with the IWHF.
IWHF secretary Amrit Bose said the comment was "unacceptable". "How can he (Ajit Pal) make such a statement about the women's hockey team coach? Is he running women's hockey?" Bose asked the Hindustan Times on Thursday.
"I will lodge a protest against him with Indian Olympic Association officials," she said.
"So far, I have neither been told officially about Kaushik's appointment as men's team coach, nor has Kaushik told me about it himself. The issue will top the agenda of our AGM on Saturday."
Kaushik was men's hockey coach when India took gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games.
Thereafter, he and seven senior players were unceremoniously sacked by the now-suspended IHF chief KPS Gill.
Kaushik has been with the senior women's team since then and guided them to the 2006 Commonwealth Games silver. Still, there was some disillusionment of late: after the women failed to make it past the Olympic qualifiers in Kazan (Russia), some people within the IWHF questioned his "ability". "That's an old story. We feel that Kaushik is the best available coach for the women's team too," said an IWHF office-bearer on condition of anonymity. A proposal for the merger of men's and women's hockey (and the proposed formation of one 'Hockey India') will also be discussed at the AGM.