New Delhi: India`s foreign coach Michael Nobbs might be against the participation of national players in the lucrative World Series Hockey league, but some former players-turned-coaches feel that the event comes as a blessing in disguise for the struggling national sport.
With little over three months left for the Olympic qualifiers, Indian hockey`s Australian coach Nobbs has shot off a letter to Hockey India, stating his fears over disintegration of the national camp because of the lucrative WSH tournament, beginning December 15.
Nobbs feels the private tournament, jointly organised by rival Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport, could jeopardise his team`s preparation for the Olympic qualifiers, a theory which former Indian players and coaches refuse to buy.
Former coach and captain of India`s 1980 Moscow Olympics gold-winning side, Vasudevan Bhaskaran, was of the view that the WSH will help the national selectors in identifying and spotting new talents ahead of the crucial Olympic qualifier.
"This league will benefit the players in the long run, it will provide a platform for the Indian players to compete against foreign talent on their own turf. Whereas, the training camp will only facilitate the players to play against themselves and as a result stick to monotonous hockey," he said.
"It will also provide the selectors an opportunity to recruit the upcoming stars from this league."
Another former India coach, Harendra Singh, said that WSH will provide little known Indian players once in a life time opportunity to share the dressing room with the big names of world hockey.
Harendra said even though he understands Nobbs` apprehension, the tournament will provide an opportunity to create a bench strength for Indian hockey, which will help the national game in the long run.
"I honour the way Rajpal (Singh) as a player and Michael Nobbs as a coach have expressed their concern for the national team, but at the same time this is the first time a high-quality league like the WSH is being conducted here (in India).”
"Where would a player get the experience of sharing locker room space with legends like Dhanraj Pillay. It is crucial for the players to maintain their fitness and hence as professionals they are physically and mentally trained to adapt to any format of the game," Harendra said.
"This is a highly professional league which is much needed for the game, especially to revive the sport in our country. Once you have the national players participating in the league their performance is bound to improve in the long run with help of WSH. We can make a pool of players available for national camp and at the same time it will make the job of the national coach easier to make a solid and strong squad," he added.
Rajinder Singh, who coached India from 2002 to 2004, feels that WSH will provide Indian players a chance to rub shoulders with the best in the business.
"First of all, I think it is a step in the right direction. The league will be very beneficial for the players as the best talent from across the globe will participate in it," said Rajinder, who was part India`s 1980 Moscow Olympic gold medal-winning side.
"The Indian players will get a chance to perform against and with the foreign players and gain game strategy from the masterminds themselves - Indian and foreign coaches. The players will be able to develop their skills and will be better equipped to take on international teams in the Olympic qualifiers scheduled after league," Rajinder said.
Another ex-player-turned-coach Jude Felix to agreed with his colleagues, and said WSH will provide local players financial security apart from the chance to play alongside some of the world`s best.
"I don`t see how it is hampering the chances of the boys. Anybody can see that this is a huge opportunity to spot talent, and the players can be utilised as back up for the games," he said.
"This is the time when the Indian players are receiving the opportunity to earn good money and at the same time perform well. Hockey players are always known to be paid the worst. If the players can gain financially as well as mentally then whose loss is it? Felix questioned.