Newly-appointed coach of the national men's hockey team Terry Walsh feels India needs to stop harping on its glorious past and focus on building a strong development programme, which is the need of the hour.
Walsh, who took over the reigns of India last month from compatriot Michael Nobbs, was straight-forward in his reply when asked about the corrective measures for India, a nation which has won a record eight Olympic gold medals in hockey in the past.
"We can't keep on harping about our past. It is not going to help us because the game has evolved over the years," Walsh told PTI in an interview during the recently-concluded Hero Junior Men's Hockey World Cup at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium in New Delhi.
"When India was winning its eight Olympic gold medals, other countries had already started to put in place their development programmes and they are reaping the dividends today," he said.
"We need to put in place a correct structure as soon as possible. We need a strong development program. By development program I mean we need to build our base from the grassroot level, we need to work with kids of 8-10 years. "As long as we don't have a strong development programnme it will be difficult for us to compete with top teams of the world on a consistent basis," said Walsh, who represented Australia in two Olympics. The 59-year-old is also not satisfied with Indian players' mental and psychological levels.
"We also need to work with the mental and psychological aspect of our players. Mentally and psychologically we are nowhere near the top teams. Realistically speaking, we are number 10 in these areas," Walsh said. "But I don't think we need a fulltime psychologist for that because it is the players who need to address their issues and take responsibility.
"Yes, occasionally we can take the help of a psychologist but it is not the solution," he said. Walsh accepted that the Indian players are skillful, but wondered how they can be so "careless" in their basics.
"The Indian players have skills and they are very flexible and agile. But they are very careless and lack in basics," he said. He said no coach can help India until and unless the base of the game in the country is strong. "If you talk about how long it will take there is no instant answer because there is no magic wand. Until and unless a strong development programme is put in place it will be difficult to match the standards of Australia or European teams," concluded Walsh, whose first assignment with Indian team will be the Hockey World League Final to be played in New Delhi from January 10-18 2014.