New Delhi: India`s new hockey coach Michael Jack Nobbs says that though his immediate priority is to see the eight-time Olympic champions qualify for the London Games, his ultimate goal is to get India back as a major hockey power.
The Australian will be racing against time to get the team ready for the Champions Trophy in December and then the Olympic qualifiers in February, both in Delhi.
The Indian team has been without a foreign coach since Spaniard Jose Brasa left at the end of the Guangzhou Asian Games in November. His assistant Harendra Singh took the team to Azlan Shah Cup last month and could not retain the title.
That pressed the panic button among hockey administrators and spurred their hunt for a foreign coach. In January, the candidates were shortlisted.
A frenetic activity in the last 15 days led the administrators to Nobbs, who vouches by the style of Indian hockey, similar to the Australian way.
"Indian hockey has an attractive style. I have grown up on Indian hockey and now I want to give something back to India. Australian hockey is hugely influenced by India. We still play the Indian style. There are many Anglo-Indian coaches in Australia. I have many Indian friends. Australian team has been successful and so can India," the soft-spoken Nobbs said in his first interaction with the media.
Asked about how he will get about his task, Nobbs said: "The first thing would be to identify where Indian hockey stands at present, talk to the players and analyse where we actually are. There are lots of processes involved. I know that qualifying for the Olympics is important, but we have to think of the long term development."
Nobbs, who straightway joins the national camp this weekend, will be assisted by David John, an exercise physiologist to analyse the players.
Asked about the reasons for decline of Indian hockey, Nobbs said: "It is sad to see the decline of Indian hockey. We are all here to think in one direction and that is to improve. I am not standing alone in this process. If Indian hockey has to succeed, it has to revolve around administrators, players and fan support."
Nobbs said he is not thinking about the bitter experiences foreign coaches like Ric Charlesworth and Spainard Jose Brasa had in the past here. "I have come here with no reservations. It is a privilege for me."
On whether he would like to have complete say in selection matter, something which Brasa had raised and which is followed by international teams like Australia, Nobbs said: "I do not want a complete free hand, but I want to have the final say. It is important for me to take inputs from others."
Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra added that they have decided that the new coach will play an important part in team selection.
Nobb, who played as centre half for Australia, served as assistant coach of the Japan women`s team (1993-1999) and then as their chief coach (2007-08). He is also a club coach in Western Australia and has the experience of working at the grassroots level.