Controversy and Indian women’s hockey seem to go hand-in-hand.
With just three days to go for the Commonwealth Games, Rupa Saini, the team manager, has come down hard on head coach, Sandeep Somesh, in her report to the Sports Ministry.
The customary account, which contains Saini’s observations on the team’s trip to Argentina for the World Cup in early September, terms Somesh as inexperienced and incompetent and calls for his ouster immediately after the Games.
Submitted to the Ministry on September 24, Saini, who is also the government observer for women’s hockey, goes on to say that in the event of Somesh being retained, the team’s performance in the Asian Games (in November) could take a hit.
Blaming Somesh for the team’s poor showing in the World Cup, Saini says he failed to unite the team and his strategies were not effective which translated into poor finishes. Somesh had taken over the reins of the team after former head coach, M.K. Kaushik, resigned in August.
Saini also accuses the goalkeeping coach, Khalid Mohammad, of not giving enough attention to the goalkeepers’ training.
Interestingly, after the sex scandal, the team-members had requested the Ministry to retain the services of Somesh and Mohammad.
Saini suggests the reins of the team be handed over to either men or women coaches.
In a first, the Sports Authority of India had appointed former players Pritam Siwach and Sandeep Kaur as coaches before the World Cup.
The mixed team, according to Saini, led to coordination issues.
When contacted, Saini refused to comment. “It’s a confidential report and I can’t discuss it. All I can say is I have submitted it to the Ministry.”
A special meeting has been convened on Thursday by the Ministry discuss the issue. “There is a meeting regarding the women’s hockey coaches and government observer,” said a Ministry source.
“We have the manager’s report on the World Cup and we will deliberate on the suggestions made in it,” he added.
If Saini’s observations on Somesh and Mohammad are correct, India, who won the title in Manchester (2002) and finished runners-up in Manchester, can kiss their chances goodbye. If that’s not the case, another controversy looks set to grip women’s hockey.