Ric Charlesworth: 'Graham Reid the best person to help Indian team'

Graham Reid had won the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World League and 2016 Champions Trophy with the Kookaburras but stepped down following a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympics, the first time Australia failed to finish in the top-four since the 1980 edition.

Ric Charlesworth hoped that former national coach Harendra Singh would be part of the set-up despite the bad blood between him and Hockey India.   -  R. V. Moorthy

The Indian men’s month-long hockey camp began on Monday even as the team continues to await a new chief coach pending Graham Reid’s appointment with the Sports Ministry.

Reid, meanwhile, has received a vote of confidence from Ric Charlesworth, the man considered undisputed guru of modern hockey. Reid was assistant to Charlesworth for six years before the latter called it a day after winning the 2014 World Cup. Reid was asked to step into his shoes, making Charlesworth the best man to assess his protege.

“Reid is experienced in the international game and, as assistant coach in the Netherlands, he knows the international scene and all the teams and players -- that is crucial for someone taking over with the Olympics next year,” Charlesworth said.

Unlike many, Charlesworth is also aware of the present Indian set-up, having seen them closely during the 2018 World Cup as part of the expert broadcast panel. And he believed that Reid was the best person to help the team take the next step.


Graham Reid's appointment as the chief coach is pending with the Sports Ministry.   -  Getty Images


Interestingly, Charlesworth also hoped that former national coach Harendra Singh would be part of the set-up despite the bad blood between him and Hockey India. “Reid is a good collaborator and he will be able to work with those already there — I expect Harendra might be able to contribute too,” Charlesworth hoped.

“He (Reid) is, in my view, the best person to help them (India) as his approach will fit with an assertive and aggressive way of playing which is best suited to India’s skills-set and general approach. They are less effective if they play ‘safe’. India’s team is right on the cusp yet need a little more belief and some polishing to take the next step.”  — Charlesworth


 

The 55-year old Reid had won the 2014 Commonwealth Games, the 2015 World League and 2016 Champions Trophy with the Kookaburras but stepped down following a disappointing performance at the Rio Olympics, the first time Australia failed to finish in the top-four since the 1980 edition.

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Charlesworth reiterated that the Rio loss was an aberration. “He was successful with Australia and unlucky to lose his job after one poor performance in Rio — the fact that the Dutch acquired him speaks of that,” he said.

Also interesting would be to see how Reid handles the senior players in the Indian side under the current philosophy of ‘younger legs’. Charlesworth had axed the likes of Jamie Dwyer after 2014 to build a new team for Rio but Reid brought them back, insisting there was no substitute for experience.

Charlesworth, however, had a word of caution. “I believe they need to give Reid the time to make a difference and move soon. The biggest threat is that he may not be given the time to polish this team -- he needs to start soon and India needs to confirm a place in the game,” he said.