Don`t expect big turnaround in a flash, says new coach Walsh
Mumbai: New national men`s hockey chief coach Terry Walsh is looking at a timeframe of five to seven years for the country to regain its lost glory at the world level and feels short term success would be of no lasting use.
"I understand where Indian hockey was and where it is. I also understand how my performance works along with Roelant Oltmans (Hockey India`s high performance manager). It`s a process and it takes time for the change to come," said the Australian, who has come here with Oltmans to witness the last stages of the 48th Bombay Gold Cup tournament being held at the Mahindra Stadium, at a media conference today.
"Always the question is how long? Everybody wants tomorrow, but it`s not possible. It probably could be somewhere between 5-7 years to be consistently in the very top of the world," said the Aussie.
"The process is the key part .... It will take quite a few years to consistently get a good result. It`s possible to get a short term result but that`s not of any use. We are looking for consistency and progression over the next 4-6 years and then beyond."
The former centre forward said he would strive to retain the Indian style of play combined with elements to shore up the defence, seen as the Achilles Heel of teams from the sub-continent.
"It`s a process to develop a style that works for Indian hockey players and the style that works primarily for Indian hockey players is the Indian style of hockey. But it must have elements that shore up the defence," said the Western Australian who is to celebrate his 60th birthday next month.
"It must have elements, how men in attack work as defenders when they don`t have the ball, efficiently and effectively. They must understand what to do in that 99 per cent of the time when they don`t have the ball.
"So, if we can fix those things, then I believe that the style of hockey that is most suited and the most threatening to the rest of the world is the Indian style of hockey. It`s going to be the Indian way of playing in the modern era," said Walsh who had played in the 1982 World Cup for Australia at the adjacent Wankhede Stadium.
Heaping praise on the wristy play of Indians, Walsh said
while dribbling looked very good to watch, it could also lead to problems if done in excess.
"What the Indian players have are unbelievably quick wrists, they are so clever. But a lot of the time it`s (also) the biggest problem. Thus we have to find the right levels (balance)," said the national coach.
"If the moment is right to dribble, then dribble, (but) I don`t know when the moment is right. Don`t dribble with your heads down, but dribble on an angle down the pitch and be looking for the next pass.
"Sometimes with the pressure of modern hockey dribbling is not a wise choice, because when you beat the first one there is number 2 and then 3 (rival players to get past). And then you eventually lose (control). It looks very good (for the spectators), but all (ends in) bad luck," said Walsh.
Looking to next year when the team would play three big tournaments, including the World Cup in The Netherlands, Walsh said an improvement in the results can be expected only gradually.
"We have a lot of big tournaments next year. We have a World Cup (May 31-June 15) and the Asian Games (September 19-October 4 in Incheon, South Korea) - two very big tournaments - and also have other tournaments to play including World League 4.
"We will progressively improve. Everyone wants to win a medal in the World Cup, along with another 12 teams but there are only 3 (medals on offer). We would be better by the time we get to the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow from July 23-August 3)," said Walsh.
"It`s a privilege to be given the opportunity to coach the Indian national team. I am going to be a facilitator. I have some thoughts and ideas, some training programmes etc that we will use. But I am very pleased with the level of the non-skilled phases the players already have that I have seen earlier this week (in the camp).
"Roelant has done an outstanding job in the last few months (as stand-in coach following the departure of Walsh`s predecessor Michael Nobbs). I was impressed how far the team has progressed in the very short time under Roelant`s stewardship," said the new coach. Walsh said the biggest problem with Indian hockey is the development process and felt Oltmans has been entrusted with the task of making sure that under-19 players also develop off-the-ball skills to make a smooth transition into the seniors level.
"The biggest problem I believe is the process of development. I believe Roelant`s task is to create a process which really works so that the younger players of 15-19 could come into the system with the skills that are required, not just the ball handling skills. We must remember that not more than 98 per cent of the time we don`t have the ball on the pitch and 99.5 per cent of the time we are practising what we do with the ball. We need to spend a lot of time doing the other things because they are very important," he said.
"Hockey players are total hockey players when they control what they do off the ground and on the ground. And our objective is to make sure that we create a total hockey team - players who are committed not just to perform on the pitch, to be very good off the pitch (too), and there are many things that make that up.
"I believe that what I have seen is in Indian hockey those process have not been clearly stipulated," he added explaining his perception of what ailed Indian hockey for close to four decades during which it won only one major world level title (Moscow Olympics gold).
Walsh was happy with the understanding that is being shown now by the hockey governing authorities in the country.
"What I have seen is Hockey India (officials) are working hard to bring about changes, but changes are difficult. Equally, people at SAI have shown clearly they want progress to be made and they understand clearly that this process takes time.
"It`s a huge challenge and the biggest challenge in world hockey to coach India. I am very happy and excited to have that chance," he added.