Coach crisis in Indian sports…in the year before Olympics


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The fact that there has been a surge in achievements in the Indian sector of sports is easily apparent in the performances of the Indian contingent at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games. The coming of the new Sports Minister, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, an ex-Olympian himself, has done the country a greater boon than all the bane suffered in the previous years. India occupied victorious spots in sports as unfamiliar as sepaktakraw in the Asian Games. In Gold Coast, India ranked third in the medal tally with a whopping 66 medals in the bag whereas in Asian Games, India gave it’s best ever performance with 69 medals to commemorate the spoils of a well-played multi-sporting extravaganza.

The performances at the CWG and Asiad were like a stepping stone towards the bigger goal, lurking in 2020- the Tokyo Olympics. Considering the sudden peak in India’s sporting achievements all across the world, the primary focus of the Indian contingent headed for Tokyo should be on getting the preparations absolutely correct and leave no stone upturned in the process.

Surprisingly for India, this hasn’t been the case of late as several sports like the Indian team for table tennis, the Men’s Hockey team and the Men’s Football team are having to see days without the guidance of a formal coach.

The table tennis and hockey camps are particularly distressed at such a moment when all hands should be on deck to help prepare for the Olympics scheduled to begin from 24th July, 2020 in Tokyo.

Table Tennis

2018 had been a particularly glorious year for table tennis with the women’s team creating history by winning the Gold medal in the Team event of the Commonwealth Games by defeating Singapore in the Finals.

Singapore suffered a sore defeat for they had never lost the golden spot in all the previous CWGs. The men’s team also secured the gold medal in what was a dream run for the entire table tennis contingent.

A total of 3 Golds, 2 Silvers and 3 Bronze medals were claimed in Gold Coast.

At the ASIAD likewise, the Indian men’s team secured the bronze medal which became the first ASIAD medal in table tennis for the country. The one man who shaped the team was the Italian coach Massimo Costantini, who led the players to a overly successful outing in Gold Coast and Jakarta. The Italian who had joined as the Coach in 2016 did not renew his contract with the Table Tennis Federation of India citing personal reasons.

Coach Massimo abandoned the table tennis brigade to go home-bound and take care of his wife, who was recovering from the injuries of a car accident.

The unfortunate departure of Massimo is a gigantic blow to the team and it’s high time India brought in a replacement to help guide the team to success in Tokyo Olympics.


Hockey

The hockey team have been on the similar radar with frequent coach changes which is causing trouble in the swift preparations for the Olympics. With the Olympic Qualifiers just around the corner in June, the Indian men’s hockey team is having to bear the brunt of such changes.

In September 2018, senior coach Harendra Singh was sacked from his position following a disappointing year for India. Singh’s role was not entirely dismissive for India played Pakistan in the Bronze Medal match and did secure the win in ASIAD. However, the sacking of Singh is ill-timed as the Qualifiers are knocking on the door and India, is still without a senior coach to guide them.

Also read: Indian Hockey still unclear on road map for Tokyo 2020

The dearth of good coaches in the hockey ecosystem of India currently is a pressing issue which needs to be rectified right away before it gets too late for the team to see the day of success and surge back again.


Football

The men’s football team has suffered a similar fate with Indian football team head coach Stephen Constantine calling it quits after India’s exit from the Asian Cup after being handed a humiliating defeat against Bahrain recently. The second-time head coach for India, Constatine abandoned the Football team who is still trying to make the cut and enter the bigger platforms of the world stage. While Constantine’s decision to resign is the latest blow to the Indian team, no replacement has been found for him either.

Things look particularly bleak in table tennis, hockey and football hence with tournaments all lined up in the year, each critical for ensuring a good performance at the 2020 Olympics. On the brighter side, the wrestling team of India has brought in foreign coaches to keep the training process intact and in top shape for the Olympics. However, the uniformity in preparations is lacking at a crucial moment and it’s past time that India looked to resolve this pressing crisis and brought in coaches to guide the nation to the light of victory.

With the Qualifiers and tournaments approaching fast, the Indian teams need a helmsman to point the way to success in the wake of the 2020 Olympic dream.