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Men's hockey has no legs

The Indian men's hockey team is good enough to go full-throttle for just 35 minutes, team manager, Col Balbir Singh, has said in a scathing report to Hockey India (HI), in the wake of the disastrous Azlan Shah Cup outing in Ipoh (Malaysia) recently. Saurabh Duggal reports.

india Updated: May 31, 2011 01:12 IST
Saurabh Duggal

The Indian men's hockey team is good enough to go full-throttle for just 35 minutes, team manager, Col Balbir Singh, has said in a scathing report to Hockey India (HI), in the wake of the disastrous Azlan Shah Cup outing in Ipoh (Malaysia) recently.

The team, led by stalwart Arjun Halappa, finished a poor sixth in the tournament featuring seven countries and suffered an ignominious loss to New Zealand.

"India was bogged down by inconsistency and very poor fitness levels in comparison to other participating teams," Singh states in his report. "If you play good hockey only for 35 minutes (a full match is 70 minutes), you will surely be punished in a world-class field."

The manager's report further states, "We played well against all the teams but only in the first half. We could not last the full game and conceded a number of goals in the second half due to fatigue and poor clearance. Fitness was a problem... players must be on their toes from the start to the end."

Even the team's physical trainer, Dr Pradip Dutta, has raised serious fitness-related issues in his report to HI. "Improvement in physical fitness is required if they want to dominate the elite teams of the world," says Dr Dutta.

He recommends that in order to improve fitness levels, continuous camps with short breaks is the need of the hour. "The general fitness levels are not an issue. But when it comes to hockey-specific physical fitness, it is where the team is lacking. We need to improve hockey-specific physical fitness in order to cope with the physical and psychological demands of modern-day hockey," says Dr Dutta in his report.

Even coaches, Harendra Singh, Jugraj Singh and Clarence Lobo, have pinpointed the same issue in their reports. "The team should have undergone more coaching camps and played some Test matches to prepare for the tournament."

After the Guangzhou Asian Games debacle in November, the only coaching camp for preparing the team for the Azlan Shah was held after a gap of four-and-half months.