Indian men’s hockey team coach Harendra Singh eyes Asian Games gold
Spelling out his agenda for the year, Harendra Singh said that helping India win gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta and ensuring their qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games was uppermost on his mind.other sports Updated: May 18, 2018 10:33 IST
For Indian men’s hockey team coach Harendra Singh, sport is not just about drawing strategies and making players follow strict regimen; it’s also about building a bond with them to ensure a harmonious relationship in the team.
For the 2016 World Cup-winning junior team, he donned the mantle of the elder brother, while for the Asia Cup-winning women’s players he was like a father; caring and understandable. Now, as the senior team prepares for the Asian Games in August, he has to act like a friend, which, he feels, is the best way to let the boys feel at ease.
“I have to handle different players and teams differently, and I enjoy that association. In my opinion, strategy is something that doesn’t change much from one coach to another, it is how you handle the players psychologically, which makes the difference,” said Harendra during his maiden interaction after becoming the men’s team coach.
“The difference between coaching the juniors and then the seniors is akin to handling school kids and then taking care of graduate-level students,” he said.
Spelling out his agenda for the year, Harendra said that helping India win gold at the Asian Games in Jakarta and ensuring their qualification for the Tokyo Olympic Games was uppermost on his mind.
“Before the Asian Games, we will be playing the Champions Trophy, but I want the team to finish on top in the Asian Games as it will give us plenty of time to be ready for the 2020 Olympics,” said Harendra, who termed 2018 as a challenging year for Indian hockey. India will also compete in the World Cup at Bhubaneswar later this year.
He also advocated the need to combine youth and experience to make a winning unit for the Asian Games and the World Cup. “As in any other sport, hockey too requires both youth and experience. Sreejesh We is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and the team has a good blend of youth and experienced.
The coach said it was a make-or-break year for him as well. “It’s like an examination for me. Like the boys, I too need to excel in my art. Players and coaches have to share equal responsibility,” he said.
On the challenge Pakistan will pose at the Asian Games —the arch-rivals forced India to split points in a league match at the CWG in Gold Coast —, Harendra said, he will only focus on his players’ strengths.
“Instead of talking about the opposition, we need to strengthen ourselves. I tell my players to remain focused and not bother about others,” said Harendra, who added that the side was “blessed” given that “there are three-four former captains in the team”. “We have 3-4 captains in the side, including Sardar Singh. I believe these senior players as well as the juniors can tackle any kind of situation,” he said.