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Ric Charlesworth: You Have to Plan Long Term

Former technical advisor to the Indian hockey team Ric Charlesworth tells Forbes India that the hype around India qualifying for the Olympics may not be entirely justified


Name: Ric Charlesworth
Age:
60
Designation: Coach, Australia Men’s National Hockey Team
Currently Reading: Inverting the Pyramid

Q. Indian hockey has seen a resurgence under Michael Nobbs. How do you read the signs?
I have a problem with your primary premise, that’s there a resurgence in Indian hockey. If India had to beat Great Britain to qualify, I don’t think they would have done it. Canada was the only difficult team to beat. I am not surprised that India qualified; they would have done so I think. But it wouldn’t have been this easy. The whole reaction there though, I think you have jumped the gun. I am not sure about the resurgence. You have qualified for the Olympics and that is good.

Q. Does that mean there’s no hope for India?
India has the most resources in the world when it comes to hockey, finance, players… When I was in India, I had a pool of 3,000 good players to choose from. India is the leading country in the world in terms of resources and possibilities. That is why everyone in the world is so keen for India to do well. It’s so important for the sport’s development. The fundamentals in Indian hockey are okay in some ways. I know the kind of talent that the players have in India. It is amazing.

Q. What’s the problem then?
The administration is very problematic. You have two bodies fighting with each other, there is a lot of tos and fros happening. You still have the court cases between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation. In the middle you have Sports Authority of India which is the biggest problem. The bureaucracy is India is in a class by itself. The quality and administration of the game is less than perfect. It’s the one thing that holds India back. You have the potential to be number one. But at the moment, the administration and structure of the game is India’s chain.

Q. What do you make of Michael Nobbs?
I knew Michael [Nobbs] well as a player. He was very good. He’s been involved with mid-level clubs all around Perth. Michael is a confident fellow and he backs his judgement.

Q. Can he take India to the next level?
You need to plan long-term. Unless you are planning long-term, you will continue to make the same mistakes that you have made for so long. New tournament, new coach. Teams does badly, sack the coach. It’s like a revolving door. At Athens, you hired a German [Gerhard Rach] less than a year before the Olympics. All of us were stunned. He didn’t have the credentials or status.

Q. You were asked to coach the Indian team…
I was asked if I would do the job. I said yeah but I have list of ten things that you have to do. I wrote a 20-30 page document and went to the officials. Number one on the list was that everyone on the contract would get paid. We didn’t get to number two. It was impossible to get anyone to make a decision. No one knew where the money went.