After Olympic collapse, India ready to enter ‘rebuilding phase’ under Nobbs
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After the disastrous London Olympics campaign that ended with the men's hockey team finishing last, a few things changed in Indian hockey and a few remained the same. Seven players who went to the British capital in July-August were replaced by promising juniors. Also making an exit was the Australian physio, David John. However, head coach Michael Nobbs remained, as did bureaucratic impediments. In fact, the former remained in spite of the latter (a visa delay resulted in the coach joining the national camp halfway through). Under Nobbs this mixture of old and new, youth and experience is set to kickstart a rebuilding phase, one that begins with Lanco International Series and Champions Trophy in Australia. In an interview with The Indian Express after wrapping up the five-week long camp, Nobbs spoke about his post-Olympics plans. Excerpts.
The Lanco International Series and the Champions trophy will be the national team's first outing post London 2012. What lies ahead?
It is a rebuilding phase for us. There is a big change in the team. Sardar Singh is the oldest player in the team, and he is just 26. And we have the likes of Akashdeep Singh, all of 18. He played well at the recently held Sultan Johar Cup. The junior programme has been working as I wanted it to, and I am very pleased with that. The young players we have got are our future. They need experience and this Australia tour will be a learning curve for them.
What's being done to ensure that the transition of these young players from the junior to the senior level is smooth?
I'm constantly in touch with the junior team coach, Baljeet Singh Saini. What we want is that the junior side trains the same way the senior team does. That they follow the same regimen: from eating, training to playing. We have got very talented players and we want them to be physically and mentally stronger. The sooner they do it, the better. It will also encourage healthy competition within the squad. With young players such as Harbir and Gurmail coming up, I am sure other fullbacks will be kept on their toes.
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