Legendary Australian coach Ric Charlesworth said that the teams in the Hockey India League may find the hectic schedule difficult to cope with, but his side will have an advantage with many youngsters.
"When there were six franchises, there were only 10 games. It was better. It is more difficult now because we play and travel for the whole time. Maybe it's an advantage of having a young squad. We have a very young squad, hopefully that will work for us," said the Aussie who will coach the Mumbai Magicians in January 14-February 10 league.
Charlesworth said that franchise-based IPL-style event has the potential to do wonders for Indian hockey.
"This tournament offers some of the young Indian players to rub shoulders with some of the best in the world. Getting the experience for them that will only benefit the game locally," he told reporters here.
"This tournament will be interesting because you are tested by having to use your full squad and plus the quality of the reserve players that is critical," he added.
Asked about the treatment he expected from Indian fans after resigning from the post of national coach in 2008, he said, "This is a different task entirely. I was with the government then and I had some issues with my contract and arrangement so hopefully it will be different this time. I am optimistic. This is an exciting opportunity for the game in India and in the world. We want it to work."
Charlesworth was sent by the FIH as part of a project to revive Indian hockey but the Australian left the country in a huff after expressing dissatisfaction with the working conditions.
The Mumbai Magicians began their practice though the entire team is yet to be assembled.
"It is very difficult to try and put together a team in seven days. We only have half our squad here, it is just familiarisation, nothing more than this. Some of the guys are travelling a long way and got stuck in Singapore, so it takes a few more days. Some of the boys are stuck in Delhi at the moment --the perennial fog you have in winter. I am happy we are not playing in Jalandhar too often," he said.
He also praised the drag-flicker Sandeep Singh and rated him as one of the best penalty-corner takers.
"In my opinion, Sandeep is among the best couple in the world, when it comes to taking penalty corners. You have to win them and you have to play well enough to win a number, then it can make a difference. If we don't get many corners, then there is no point. We also have some other options. So if we get some corners, then we will be competitive," he said.
"Sandeep has the task of proving that he can do the job. He has the job in front of him and to show he can do it. He has lot of skills, it's the nimbleness that I haven't seen him provide but has to do more consistently perhaps. He is an outstanding penalty corner taker."
He further said that the team might have to find a replacement for Spanish player Sergi Enrique.
"Maybe we have to replace Sergi Enrique from Spain. Maybe there will be another boy, we are working on that. Sergi won't come I think there is a problem," Charlesworth said.
Asked if the competition can be based on the lines of Lanco Series in Australia, he said, "I like the rules of that game. Maybe they should think about that. I think this competition will be a platform for that--- experimenting with some of the rules. We don't have to change much. Some of the rules in the last few decades have made it too easy to defend."
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