Monday, September 18, 2006

Indian hockey has turned around: Gill

NDTV: "In spite of India's dismal show in the recently concluded Hockey World Cup in Germany, Indian Hockey Federation chief KPS Gill says that he will continue in his post and that contrary to perception Indian hockey has turned around.

In an exclusive interview to NDTV in Raipur he said, "Well you have to keep losing before you start winning I think. We have had some tragedies in the past three-four years, which have been great setbacks to us. One was Jugraj's injury and the other was Sandeep Singh's accident."

He said the International Hockey Federation president Els Van Brieda Vriesman had told him that India would find the going difficult in Germany without the services of Sandeep Singh.

"When the FIH President Els Van Brieda Vriesman came to India, I told her I was optimistic about India making the semi-finals of the World Cup, but she clearly said that without Sandeep Singh we would not manage it."

Asked about his dictatorial style of functioning, he said, "sometime you have to put your foot down".

"For example, I insisted on Jugraj's inclusion against the 'coaches' wishes. Also there was a one-eyed player who was going to be selected for the Asian Games but I put my foot down. Other than that I have never been dictatorial in running the IHF," he said

He said India's 6-1 defeat at the hands of the Dutch was expected.

"The 6-1 defeat to Holland was expected. I have never seen our defence being so poor, we had the best defence for a number of years."

Gill brushed aside the question of accountability saying," Our football team lost 7-1 (in the Asian Cup qualifiers to Saudi Arabia). Is anyone talking about accountability?

"Our cricket team lost the other day and if Tendulkar was not there they would have crashed down on their faces. Is anyone talking about accountability?"

Gill, who has headed the IHF for the last 12 years, added that such a long time was indeed required to turn around Indian hockey.

"When I took over, I had said it would take me 10 to 12 years to turn around Indian hockey. It has turned around. We have a pool of Junior players coming up and the future of Indian Hockey is very bright.

"We had won the Asiad in 1998 and in recent times we have encountered success in minor tournaments, it's just that we have not been able to translate that into medals at major tournaments like the Olympics and World Cup," he added.

Dispelling notions that he wanted to hold on to the top job, he said: "I wanted to leave in 2003 after we won the Asia Cup and at the Afro-Asian Games."

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