THE MEN HAVE already crashed out ingloriously and even as this is being written, the ongoing Indian women's hockey camp for next month's Olympic qualifiers is in trouble. They are now officially without a coach.
In what is a perfect example of a ham-handed bureaucracy and a typically Indian systemic failure, chief national coach M.K. Kaushik has been forced to leave the camp and report back to his employers, the Haryana Sports Department.
Why? Because they sanctioned his leave only for a month and that month is up on Thursday.
Kaushik, obviously worried about his long-term job, told HT as much. "The Haryana Sports Department has granted me leave till March 20 and I have to rejoin duty after that. I will only rejoin the camp if further leave is sanctioned."
Momentum was building up at the camp. Two days ago, the Indian squad was announced and now, this totally unnecessary problem. Preparations will obviously be affected with the coach missing.
Interestingly, the Indian Women Hockey Federation (IWHF) was aware that Kaushik had only been granted leave for a month but had not approached the department to grant him an extended leave of absence.
"We have not received any communication from IWHF or from Kaushik to further sanction his leave.
“If they will approach us, we will definitely extend his leave," Sudhir Mohan, Director sports at the Haryana Sports Department told HT.
Frankly, this even sounds silly. After all, Kaushik is the national coach and this is only the second time ever that the Indian women have made the cut for the Olympic qualifiers.
The IWHF, incidentally, had asked the Haryana government to spare Kaushik for national duty from February 20 to April 30 and then, spare him further till the 2012 Olympics.
But department sanctioned only a month's leave (quoting "official policy") and that too on the condition that his TA/DA would be borne by the federation.
It's a pretty unfortunate state of affairs from a state that has given India 10 of the 22 women in the national squad.