Neil Hawgood to join Indian eves as chief coach, not assistant
Former chief coach Neil Hawgood will now resume duties in his previous capacity.
New Delhi: Back to the country after exactly a year, former chief coach Neil Hawgood was supposed to join the Indian women's hockey team as an assistant to Matthias Ahrens this time but in a sudden turn of events, the Australian will now resume duties in his previous capacity.
Hawgood served as the Indian women's hockey team's chief coach for a period of more than two years before quitting in November last year citing personal reasons. A day back Hockey India, however, announced that the Australian will now return to the country only as a coach.
But things changed overnight as after detailed discussions with Sports Authority of India (SAI), Hawgood told PTI that he will join the team back as chief coach and not as an assistant.
"Hockey India approached me and enquired with me whether I was interested to join the women's team again. Once I got the offer I didn't have a second thought as I always maintained that I am open to return to the girls with whom I shared a special bonding," Hawgood told PTI in an interview.
Asked whether he had any apprehensions in joining the team in a much lower capacity offered to him this time, the Australian said: "They didn't mention any particular position.
My original brief from Hockey India was that whether I am interested to be a part of the coaching team again. And I just yes.
"But things changed yesterday after discussions with SAI officials. I will now join the team back as chief coach. I have signed the contract and it is beyond December 2016.
Matthias too didn't have any problem. I knew him for a long time and all parties are quite happy with the situation," he said.
Hawgood, who coached the Indian women's squad from July 2012 till November 2014, enjoyed a good stint with the side having led the girls to the bronze medal in the 2013 junior World Cup.
Under Hawgood's leadership, the Indian women's team showed a lot of progress. India won the bronze in the 17th Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea besides a first-ever bronze medal in the junior World Cup.
reign that the team won the Hockey World League Round 2 in 2013, silver in the Asian Champions Trophy and also bagged the fifth position at 2014 Commonwealth Games.
But Hawgood's sudden resignation, which came on the heels of fellow Australian Terry Walsh's unceremonious ouster, without citing any reason created quite a flutter within the hockey circles.
The first assignment on return for Hawgood, who left India to work as a consultant with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), will be a five-match Test series in Argentina from November 18-30.
"I have keenly followed the progress of the girls in the last one year. They are playing better. They have qualified for Olympics and it is a testament to their improvement. Rio Olympics is also of the reasons which motivated me to join the team," he said.
Asked about his future plans with the team, the 53-year-old Australian said: "It is very difficult for me to assess the team right now. But I will be in a good position to say something about the team after the Argentina tour. I am also interested to see some of the junior players."
Asked the reason behind parting ways with Malaysia, he said: "Things were compact in Malaysia. My contract also expired in July this year and they decided to go different way. Now they want a Technical Director and not a foreign coach and I am not open to be a Technical Director."
Hawgood was a former Australian player who represented his nation at the 1988 Summer Olympics. He played in seven games, scoring five goals, as the Australian team finished in fourth position.