Spanish coach Brasa’s blueprint for Indian hockey

January 16th, 2009 - 8:13 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 16 (IANS) Spaniard Jose Brasa, widely tipped to take over as the national coach, has traced the ills of Indian hockey to the introduction of synthetic turf that affected the match fitness of players.Brasa feels the downslide of Indian hockey began in 1975 with the artificial pitches being made mandatory for all international games, thus pitting the subcontinental players against the supremely fit Europeans. Now, it is not the skills but fitness of the robust Europeans teams that the Indian players are finding difficult to match.

Brasa has had a series of meetings Thursday-Friday wherein the thrust of his briefings was that the Indian players must gain in physical strength if they have to perform consistently at the top international level. Their problem, he insists, is that they do not last the full 70 minutes, resulting in conceding goals in the closing minutes of the game.

A masters coaching degree holder from the International Hockey Federation (FIH), Brasa has apparently made an impressive two-hour presentation before the technical and ad-hoc committee members of the Indian Olympic Association. He believes the stamina of Indian players has to improve enormously. For that they will have to follow stamina-building physical training.

“Modern hockey is all speed and the Indian players look good in the first half, expending every ounce of their energy, and when it comes to the second session they seem to slacken considerably, because of the falling energy levels,” Brasa was quoted as saying by a member of the ad-hoc committee.

“Their technique was effective on grass as the game was played at a slow pace, allowing players to conserve energy. But on synthetic pitches, the players have to have higher fitness levels to last 70 minutes,” the official told IANS.

The ad-hoc committee members were impressed with the homework the Spaniard has done, backing his observations with technical data with medical inputs.

“The players must undergo periodical medical check-ups to ascertain among other things their lung capacity and the endurance levels of a rigorous fitness regimen.”

Curiously, Brasa like the previous overseas coach from Australia, Ric Charlesworth, has coached his national women’s team to an Olympic gold medal, in 1992 at Barcelona.

The ad hoc committee members seem to have been bowled over by the Spaniard’s knowledge of India and its culture, besides stressing on the areas the officials need to focus on. He has also given them a blueprint for the development of the game in the country.

Though the ad hoc committee is convinced about Brasa’s qualifications and the ability to deliver, they do not want to hasten his appointment after burning their fingers in the case of Charlesworth. The Spaniard Friday met IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi to broadly discuss the contract before going to the fine print. It is also to be seen what will he cost.

One thing is for sure, as the officials revealed, that there is no other candidate in their view for the job.

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