Though he comes from Spain and is not known to quote Greek mythology at will, Jose Brasa, chief coach of the Indian hockey team, would no doubt be likening himself to Sisyphus, the king in Tartarus cursed to roll a boulder up a hill only to watch it roll back down.
The task of arranging world-class equipment for the Indian team is proving Sisyphean for the 58-year-old Brasa. The FIH master coach has been asking for equipment and personnel necessary for training the team. What he has got in return are promises, and more promises.
Brasa, entrusted with the task of reviving Indian hockey and helping it attain the exalted perch that it once held, badly needs a sports psychologist, GPS system, heart-rate monitoring machine, a software to analyse matches and some laptops for the coaches. He has got none of these.
As the Indian team gets ready for Brasa’s first stern test at the Champions Challenge-I at Salta in Argentina and subsequently for the FIH World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, Brasa has reiterated his demands.
“At a meeting on Sept. 16 with Sports Minister MS Gill and SAI officials, I was promised a sports psychologist after our return from Canada. But nothing has happened. I think no one told them that we are back,” Brass said sarcastically.
Brasa has selected Encko Larumba from Spain for the job rejecting suggestions to pick someone from India. “The coach has the overall responsibility and, therefore, he and the psychologist should be on the right track. Also, there is no one of the same calibre in India. Hockey India officials spoke to him but he is still waiting for the final call and contract,” said Brasa.
Brasa, however, said he is going ahead with his work to try and make the most of whatever he’s got. “Considering these limitations, the players have improved a lot and picked up my system very well. There are still some areas for improvement but I am happy,” he said.
The coach said the Champions Challenge-I will be a test of the new system he has introduced, which is an amalgamation of the European defence and Indian attack.
“In the past, the players would go on attacking even when they were leading 3-0 and there would be no one in defence. They would also consider the match was as good as over and lose concentration. That is one reason why India would concede late goals in crucial matches. We need a sports psychologist to tackle this but in his absence, we are working on their physical conditioning to change this,” Brasa added.
The coach said the team is shaping up well and will have a weeklong training at Madrid during which it will have matches against Spain’s B team and Club de Campo. The Champions Challenge starts from Dec. 6 and India has been clubbed with Belgium, New Zealand and China in Pool A with hosts Argentina, Canada, Pakistan and South Africa comprising Pool B.