Ric Charlesworth: Dalliance with Hockey5s ‘a mistake’

Hockey 5s, a form of hockey promoted by the International Hockey Federation, doesn’t sit well with Ric Charlesworth.

Ric Charlesworth (centre): “Hockey must create a product that is marketable.”   -  Biswaranjan Rout

The legendary Ric Charlesworth, who has a rare distinction of winning the World Cup gold medal as a player and a coach, feels that Hockey5s, which is being promoted by the International Hockey Federation (FIH), is a “mistake” even though the sport needs to be more appealing and marketable.

On the sidelines of the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here, the Aussie spoke with Sportstar about different aspects of hockey, including India’s recent rise.

Excerpts

Q: How do look at the changing dynamics in hockey?

A: I am sometimes perplexed. I am not concerned about how the Pro League will go. I like the Champions Trophy, but we are going to lose that. Hockey must create a product that is marketable. The game and skill are very good. I hope in this country the Hockey India League is up again — certainly making a difference for players around the world, but one of the critical factors in improving the standard here.

How can hockey sustain its appeal?

I would keep the field the same size but would probably play with nine players. More artistry, more difficult to defend resulting in higher scoring. But I would not do much else… The skills the players show is fantastic.

Is there any future for Hockey5s?

I don’t like it. Indoor hockey is fine. Hockey5s I think is a mistake. You change your game so much that it loses its essence.

"You change your game so much that it loses its essence." India and Malaysia play Hockey 5s at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on October 14, 2018. Photo: Getty Images

 

Should FIH take some lessons from football?

Football has not changed, football could change some things more but football does no need to try. They get massive coverage…This (hockey) is a sport about skill and speed and guile. There are many things about this sport which are attractive. We would hope that those things remain and there is something to sell… For a country like India this is a sport where you can be world champion.

Read | Hockey India League helped India make steady progress, says Ric Charlesworth

Any new trend you like in hockey?

No. I worry about that it sometimes looks like European handball — one end defend, the other end defend. I think Hockey 9s might be better because you can see more artistry. More one-on-one contests, encourages people to take more risks, teams won’t take the chance of losing the ball.

Where do you find India since the time you left the country (as technical director) a decade ago?

In the last decade you have gone from 10th to fifth. That’s good progress. Now you get can to semifinals, even in semifinals you can win.

What should India do to be consistent?

At least in this tournament, you don’t have Sardar, Sunil and Rupinder and it still is a good team. That says something about the depth. You have to keep building that…There has to be some way for the players to lose their spot in the National team to find a niche.