Two years after he resigned after a long-standing stint as Hockey India's High-Performance Director, David John is back in India. The Australian is currently working as a director of hockey with Odisha having taken on the role at the start of the month.
John is currently in Goa alongside the state team competing at the sub-junior men's nationals but is expected to develop a pathway for the growth of hockey in the state.
Largely credited for playing an active role in improving the Indian teams’ fitness levels, and setting the base for the Indian men's hockey teams Olympic medal drought ending performance at the Tokyo Olympics, John would leave his position as high performance director in 2020.
However, John will be expected to play a major role in developing the hockey programme of a state which isn't just Indian hockey's primary sponsor but which also is a major nursery for hockey in the country, contributing five players to India's men's and women's Olympic squads in Tokyo.
“For the Indian Men and Women’s team to remain strong over the next decade, there needs to be a strong contingent of players from Odisha,” John says. “I will be responsible from talent identification, player development, high performance, coach education, selection of teams, equipping Clubs, providing domestic, National and International exposures for Odisha players,” John says.
According to former Indian men's hockey team captain Dilip Tirkey, the signing of John was an important one. “ Hamara Odisha hockey ka sub-junior and junior level kaafi achha hai (our hockey at the sub-junior and junior level is good) but we are not able to perform at the level we want at the senior level,” says Tirkey, who is currently the chairman of the ad hoc committee for Hockey in Odisha of the decision to work with John.
“We have a reputation for hockey in the country but we want to improve even further. For instance, we don't see many drag flickers or goalkeepers from our state. We need to understand why this is so and how we can correct it. This is why we have got a high-performance director in David John. He's done a lot of work with the Indian senior team and I think he will help our athletes transition from the grassroots to the juniors and finally the senior level. He brought many changes to the national team, and we hope he will improve hockey in Odisha in a similar way,” says Tirkey.
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