India need to revive Hockey India League, says Ric Charlesworth

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The Australian says India has made good progress

Ric Charlesworth, who has a rare distinction of winning the World Cup gold medal as a player and a coach, is of the opinion that Indian hockey has made good progress in the last decade.

The Aussie legend spoke  about different aspects of hockey, including his reservations about Hockey5s.

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?

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 to find a niche in the National team.

How do look at the changing dynamics in hockey?

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 the game 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.

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.

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.

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