RIC CHARLESWORTH, the high-profile technical advisor to the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), feels the Indian women's hockey team has a bigger challenge at hand than what their male counterparts had in qualifying for the Olympics.
Charlesworth, who would in all probability be based in Chandigarh, said the women's team would have to come to grips with the cold weather in Kazan besides facing tough opponents in Belgium, France, Russia, the Netherlands, Antilles and USA.
Moreover, he said, the team had come under lot of pressure after the men's team crashed out of the Olympics race in Chile. "Now the burden of expectations has fallen on their shoulders and that has put them under some pressure," he said.
Charlesworth, however, refrained from commenting on the chances of the Indian team making the cut, saying they had as good chance to qualify. "The team hasn't played in enough competitions and you never know how they will perform in a match," he said.
He, however, admitted that the team, which is currently having a camp in Lucknow, had made encouraging progress in the last few months. "They have a programme in place and I did not change anything in it. I last saw them in Oman in January and they have definitely made progress, but they still have a long way to go."
Talking about Indian hockey in general, he said, "it's 'ill'", but it could be rejuvenated. "Hockey can be revived, but it will require significant changes. We will have to change every aspect of preparation ahead of the tournament," he said.
Charlesworth still homeless
Subhash Rajta adds from Chandigarh:
RIC CHARLESWORTH may have finally got down to business after signing a contract with the IHF, but he is far from being happy. "I still don't have a house, no office to sit, no support staff and my family is waiting in Australia since January. It's just not fair," the Australian resented.
The UT officials, however, clarified that they would take care of his boarding and lodging, but the Australian looked pretty miffed. "I don't know where I will be based…my luggage is spread over Chennai, Bangalore, Delhi, Lucknow and Chandigarh. It's really tough…," he said.
With all these things on his mind, will he be able to give his best? "It will be tough…one can't function like this. Hopefully, things will change for the better," he said.