The Hague: Australia's famed coach Ric Charlesworth feels Indian hockey is making progress, but it would be a while before the country can return to the podium.
Indian players celebrate after scoring a goal
"I think India is making progress. From what I see, there is some purpose in their game," says Charlesworth, coach of the Australian team that is seeking to win their second successive men's World Cup title.
"India needs to work on the structure. The country has one billion people. If they can develop hockey talent the world should look out," said Charlesworth.
India finished fifth in the six-team preliminary Group A, winning just one match and drawing one from their five outings. The fifth-place finish meant India will not be able to improve or retain their eight position of the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.
India, who were ranked No. 8 coming into the World Cup, will play for the ninth position play-off with Asian champions South Korea on June 14.
Charlesworth feels India should focus on improving their world ranking, as that would inspire confidence in the players and the fans.
"India should look to climb up the rankings, and they can do so if they stick to a plan," said Charlesworth, who had a coaching stint in India, but left disgruntled after a rift with the administrators.
But he returned last year as coach of Mumbai Magicians franchise team in the Hockey India League. "Compared to the time when I was in India, the administration there is well-settled," said Charlesworth, emphasizing the need for a stable administration for the sport's revival.
"Hockey India League has given the Indian players an opportunity to play alongside the best talent in the world. This is bound to make them better players," says Charlesworth.
Charlesworth already has the distinction of having won the men's World Cup both as captain (in 1986) and as coach (in 2010).
Charlesworth returned to Australia after short stints in New Zealand and India, to take over the men's team and saw them win the Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medals in 2006.
But the Charlesworth-trained Australian team failed to win the 2012 Olympic Games, where the Germany defeated them in the semifinals.
In his previous stint with Australian hockey, Charlesworth was coach of the Australian women's team that went on to stay as the world No. 1 for a long time.
The Australian team now wants to win the 2014 World Cup title as a farewell present to Charlesworth for whom this will be the last World Cup. He will retire from coaching after the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
Charlesworth says India needs to be patient as the benefits will come only from a long-drawn program.
"It's got to be long-term planning. Let's not look at one, two or three years," he says.
"Let's look at five, 10 or 15 years for transformation of Indian hockey. If the country sticks to a plan, it should happen," asserts Charlesworth.