New Delhi:Indian hockey has experienced the worst in recent past and from here it can go only upwards, according to new coach of the men's team M K Kaushik.
"This is true that I have to start from the scratch. But we cannot fall from here and I am sure that hereafter everything is going to be right as far as Indian hockey is concerned," Kaushik.
Indian hockey's fall from grace was complete earlier this year with the men's team failing to qualify for the Beijing Games - first time since they made their Olympic debut in 1928.
Kaushik admitted that morale of everyone involved with Indian hockey was low and reckons his first and foremost job would be to lift that.
"Whatever happened in last few months is regretful, especially after our team failed to qualify for the Olympic for the first time in 80 years. What followed was a blame game but it hardly helped.
"We have to work together to lift the morale of the players and coach alone can not do much," said the Olympian, seeking everyone's help to succeed in his mission.
Kaushik, who will continue till the 2010 Asian Games, has already chalked out his roadmap to revive the team's sagging fortune and insists on having a long-term plan.
"Firstly, players will have to go through a fitness test, after which we will make a pool of players and select the national team from there. Besides, we have to keep in mind the three major tourney in 2010 (Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Cup).
"We need to prepare a proper domestic calendar, like cricket had and it will enhance selection options. In the coming meetings, we will talk about the exposure thing," he said.
Asked if ageing players like Gagan Ajit Singh, Dilip Tirkey, Deepak Thakur and Arjun Halappa would have any role in his scheme of things, Kaushik said fitness and performance, and not age, would be the criterion.
"Form, fitness and performance will be the key. If a player fits the bill on these accounts, nobody can stop him from making to the national team. But one has to maintain consistancy for sure," he said.
So far, Kaushik has had reasonable success with the women side but the Olympian believes coaching the men's team would be a bigger challenge.