Former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay expressed his desire to be Indian national hockey team coach amidst the current coach Paul van Ass’s claim that he has been sacked following gruesome public spat between Hockey India President Narinder Batra and him.
Hockey India initially dismissed the news, but later called a meeting to decide van Ass’s future on July 24.
If Paul van Ass is sacked then he will be the fourth foreign coaches who have been sacked in a bizarre way in the last four years.
On last Monday, former Netherlands coach Paul van Ass claimed that he was sacked by HI. Following his claim, the legendary forward Dhanraj Pillay talked to HI President Narinder Batra over the phone, where he said that hi should consider an Indian coach for the national team.
“I called Batra yesterday (Monday) after all this happened and told him that it was time they considered an Indian for the coach’s job,” Pillay told DNA, in an exclusive interview on Tuesday.
“Batra sounded very positive about the idea of an Indian coach. He told me that they will definitely think of an Indian coach now.”
Confirming the news Narinder Batra said, “yes, he did call me and we had a chat about this. We will take all decisions after that meeting on July 24.”
This is not the first time Pillay advocated the India of keeping an Indian coach for the national team. In 2013 he said, “Indian hockey does not need a foreign coach. We have been spending a lot of money on foreign coaches but from Gerhard Rach (in 2004) to Micheal Nobbs (in 2012), the outcome is the same. Indian hockey is back to square one and we are now struggling to qualify for the World Cup.
“Even before HI appointed Paul Van Ass in January, I had written a mail to Batra and asked him to read my mail before making any decision,” Pillay, who guided Air India to three national titles as chief,” he said.
Pillay says, this time, the conversation is positive.
Over the years, HI expressed its interest for having foreign coach with hefty salary. The last Indian coach was Joaquim Carvalho, who had one year stint with the National team.
But, India’s relationship with foreign coach has not been good over the years. The contract of last four coaches – Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs, Terry Walsh and most likely Paul Van Ass- now had been terminated controversially, as a result national team suffered huge loss. The first foreign coach to Indian team was German Gerard Rach.
The rumour is that HI may ask high performance director Roelant Oltmans to the protégé of the team until 2016 Rio Olympics.
Pillay is not agree with this idea, he says, “If that happens, I’ll be very disappointed. He is the high-performance director, he needs to see the development of Indian hockey. He can only be with the team, not coach them.”
Asked if one year is too short time for a coach to get everything right for a coach before a tournament like Olympics, Pillay snapped theory and said one year is enough for an Indian coach as they understand the Indian players better.
“Look, barely three months before the 2004 Athens Olympics, the IHF (Indian Hockey Federation) brought in Gerard Rach. He went immediately after that. So one year is more than enough for any Indian coach.
“If you see now, what have they done in five months? How can you say Indian coaches won’t do anything? We have a year’s time, and I’ve always said that only an Indian coach can understand the Indian players’ upbringing, mentality and thinking,” 47 year old Pillay said.