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Hockey needs India, says Ric

New Delhi: Australian legend Ric Charlesworth believes hockey needs India to be doing well to survive and thrive, and feels privileged to be given a role in the revival of the eight-time Olympic champions.

The newly appointed technical adviser of Indian hockey thinks that the country is a minefield of talented players, who can be groomed to make India the Invincibles again.

“India have failed to perform for so long that the game which I have always loved is lesser, because we are missing the artistry and aesthetics that stamped the first part of the 20th century.

“Hockey needs India to be doing well to survive and thrive worldwide. I believe India have the raw material in skilled, clever and talented people to be outstanding again as a hockey nation. To play a part in the hockey renaissance is a great challenge and I am privileged to have this opportunity,” Charlesworth said.

Charlesworth, who worked with New Zealand Cricket as a high performance manager till the other day, said the first challenge would be to know the functioning of Indian hockey.

“Every day will bring a new challenge... The immediate one will be to discover how hockey works in India... To watch, learn and listen and to construct with the Indians a better way forward,” said the former Australia hockey captain.

“I have one or two commitments (for a couple of weeks) that I have already agreed to before this assignment. After that I will be practically full time except for the occasional engagement,” he added.

The Aussie great said the deal with India was a result of years of negotiations, which could have taken longer without the FIH’s Promoting Indian Hockey programme.

“Over some months and following considerable discussion, it has been developed... Such things are seldom quick or easy and without the FIH’s programme for India, it might have taken longer. The first contacts were back in 2002 and then after the Athens Olympics,” he said.

On the Indian men’s Asia Cup-winning effort, Charlesworth said the result could not be undermined, but the side needed more exposure.

“I haven’t seen the (recording of) the final, but the result was encouraging... Of course the result can often be deceptive but Korea are a quality team. Overall though we haven’t played enough games this year... We need more exposure.”

Charlesworth, who coached the Australian women’s side to two Olympic gold triumphs, hoped that both Indian teams (men and women) would qualify for the Beijing Olympics.

“The qualifiers won’t be easy against similarly ranked teams, but I hope both the men and women make it to Beijing,” Charlesworth said.

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