FIH project: Noble idea, method unclear
Even as the FIH tries to ensure that Indian hockey does not sink further, its representative in India - for Project Revive Indian Hockey, as it were - wants to study the domestic structure of the sport in the country before deciding on any plan of action.
"My immediate aim is to get information for the long-term development of hockey in India, but with the Asian Games in two months and being an important step en route to qualifying for the Beijing Olympics, we will try to suggest some immediate measures as well," former FIH marketing director Bob Davidzon said.
Davidzon, who has been meeting officials across the spectrum - from SAI to IOA and, of course, the IHF - said the response so far has been very encouraging.
"The very fact that I am here and getting full co-operation means they are receptive of the FIH's concerns," he added.
But, apart from all the concerns that the FIH may have, it is not clear exactly how it plans to go about suggesting improvements. For one, Davidzon has never played the game. He can perhaps suggest ways to market the game better and increase its profile but not its standard, as he himself admits.
"Depending on the areas of improvement, it will be decided who comes back for the implementation phase. It may even be someone else with more technical knowledge."
Secondly, he has hardly seen any domestic tournament. He came after the Lal Bahadur Shastri tournament was over and will leave before the senior Nationals begin.
As such, one wonders how he would assess the standard of domestic hockey — both in terms of player quality and umpiring standards.
Thirdly, the whole project is a joint effort between the FIH and the International Olympic Committee, with funding provided by the Indian Olympic Association from the Olympic Solidarity Fund.
But it will remain the prerogative of the IHF to finally implement any suggestions made - and, knowing the way the IHF functions, that seems highly unlikely if the recommendations happen to be contrary to its interests.
The Asian Games are less than two months away. And it remains India’s best bet to qualify for 2008 Olympics. For Indian hockey's sake, one hopes these issues will be addressed sooner rather than later.