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Charlesworth ready to coach Indian team
August 23, 2003 20:17 IST
Australian hockey legend Richard Charlesworth has expressed willingness to coach the Indian team after an Indian hockey official hinted at appointing a foreign coach in the backdrop of the team's below-par performance in the Champions Trophy in Amstelveen, Holland.
Charlesworth, who led Australia to glory in the 1986 World Cup, said he is ready to accept the job if any such offer comes his way.
"Coaching the Indian team would be a challenge. I am not chasing the job, but am willing to consider any offer made in this regard," the 51-year-old said.
A high performance consultant and a man of varied interests, Charlesworth said a lot could be done to lift Indian hockey to the highs of yesteryear.
"However, any assignment should be long term of say five years, during which I can also groom Indian coaches who can then take over. Basically, you need to put a structure in place that can sustain itself," said the former captain, who also coached the Australian women, who have won just about every major tournament, including the World Cup, Olympics and the Champions Trophy.
The lacklustre performance of the Indian team in the ongoing Champions Trophy, in which they lost three of their first four matches before beating Pakistan yesterday, had prompted Indian Hockey Federation secretary-general K Jothikumaran to indicate that a foreign coach could be appointed.
As a player, Charlesworth was acknowledged as one of the all-time greats, having participated in four Olympics. His biggest regret to date has been the failure to win a gold medal at the Olympics.
"I have been to India a few times, and am aware of the conditions there. I feel that it is good for hockey if India consistently remains in the top bracket.
"As you saw last night against Pakistan, the Indians enjoyed a lot of support, even from the Dutch.
"There is a lot of talent in your country, but you also need to have a structured long-term programme to maintain consistency of performance," he said.
The concept of a foreign coach is being mooted in some quarters as it is thought that an "outsider" would be free of pulls and pressures that an Indian coach is subjected to.
In fact, back in the 1970s, the IHF, under Ashwini Kumar, was in contact with Horst Wein of Germany, a noted theoretician, but the talks never fructified.
From time to time since then, there have been suggestions to hire a foreigner to train the players in specifics like penalty-corner conversions.
In the 1990s, the IHF did contact Floris Bovelander, the Dutch penalty corner ace, but, yet again, the move fell through.
Charlesworth said there has been no approach whatsoever from India.
"But I am certainly open to any offer provided I am suitably compensated financially, as coaching Indian team would mean separation from my family in Australia.
"Also I should have a support team which could communicate my thoughts to the players in their own language," he said.
"Let me reiterate that I am not exactly looking for a job. I am enjoying a stress-free life right now, but I feel that I have plenty of coaching still left in me," he added.
Besides hockey, Charlesworth is a practicing physician in Perth, from where he was elected to the House of Representatives for four consecutive terms.
He also authored a book on coaching that has been acclaimed as one of the best of its kind.
"Right now, I am working on another book and will be staying in Italy for about a year to complete it," he said.