David John throws weight behind coach and players

The High Performance Manager David John said there is no need of any drastic changes after India's sixth-place finish at the Hockey World Cup.

David John says the background staff needs a few more hands to make it a holistic group (File Photo).   -  V. Sreenivasa Murthy

There have been contrasting opinions on India's sixth-place finish at the Hockey World Cup, but coach Harendra Singh on Saturday got a big vote of confidence from High Performance Manager David John here.

“Harendra is a fantastic motivator, someone who believes in the team. More importantly, he makes the players believe in themselves and they believe in him, which is a great thing to be able to do for a coach,” John told Sportstar.

Although he did say that there were areas he might be deficient, John added that no coach can be a master of everything in modern hockey. “Belgium coaching staff here has 11 people! I don’t think we need to change the personnel, we need to add a few to make it a more holistic team with people to look after every aspect of the game,” he said.

Read: What next for India?

When asked about the players. “I don’t think there need be any drastic changes in the side, we already have a core of 33 that I feel needs to be persisted with. The younger ones need experience, a Hardik Singh might do okay but he needs the experience of a Billy Bakker to outsmart him. That will come with playing matches so there is no need to tamper with the boys,” he said.

John is here for a meeting with HPDs and some coaches from the other teams – “the FIH doesn’t have a concept of a HPD manager so we decided to have one of our own, we did it at the women’s World Cup as well and now here,” he said – and is also hoping to meet the Indian staff and players during his stay here.

Coaching courses from January 2019

John has also developed a three-level coaching course to bring Indian coaches more in line with modern hockey and training methodology, which would begin from January. “We have been talking to SAI for a year now and there has been no progress. They have their own curriculum at Patiala but they have neither taken any input from us or discussed anything. So I have put together my own course – Level 0, 1 and 2 – which would be to make the Indian coaches more in sync with modern hockey,” John revealed.

The courses, he explained, would be conducted by the existing national coaches – Harendra, Baljit Singh Saini and BJ Kariappa among others – and would be rotated among states, starting with the ones with a good hockey history with the coaches being  called for by invitation and recommended by the state associations and governments.

Also read: Former players back coach Harendra despite quarterfinal loss

“Level 0 will be a one-day course for the beginners, Level 1 for those with some experience and include a day each of theory and field and Level 2 for those at district and zonal levels and have two days theory and 1 day practical. We will also be having a Level 3 in future, which would be more detailed and mainly for the national coaches. This is perhaps the most important thing right now because we do not have coaches of that level or even of the same level at every stage,” John said.

He also admitted that playing 70 minutes, two-half games, still followed on the Indian domestic circuit, was not acceptable. “We have already said it has to be 15x4 at every level because no one plays 70 minutes anywhere anymore. But we need to change things right at the bottom, including structure and coaching, to ensure this,” he said.