Demoted Mukesh quits Junior camp

Hockey:Harendra elevated as chief coach

Mukesh Kumar

Soon after chief coach Mukesh Kumar checked into the hostel with great ambitions in mind, the dynamic right-winger of the 1990s was left embarrassed upon learning that he had been demoted to the status of a coach with former Senior national coach Harendra Singh elevated to the chief coach rank.

“This is completely ridiculous,” fumed the three-time Olympian Mukesh, who packed his bags off to Hyderabad later in the evening. “I came here with the belief that I am the chief coach and that is what Hockey India promised me during my appointment in February.

“Until this morning, I was under that impression. In fact, HI in its letter to Air India – my employers – seeking my release for the camp stated that I am the chief coach. Harendra was never in the picture when the dates of the camp were decided. I am completely lost for words on this sudden development,” added the Padmashree and Arjuna awardee.

The latest move by HI – which comes a day after they took a surprising U-turn by lifting the two-year ban imposed on Senior internationals Sardar Singh and Sandeep Singh – is baffling to say the least. It was Mukesh, who headed the September 15-18 selection trials held in Jalandhar to pick the 48 Junior probables and sources said the Hyderabadi signed the list as ‘chief coach’.

“This sort of treatment to such a wonderful player is completely unwarranted,” said one of Mukesh’s friends. “He comes here this morning as chief coach and then realises he has to work under Harendra. The worst thing is the reply from Hockey India secretary general Narender Batra who tells Mukesh that it was his mistake to assume himself to be the chief coach. He says Mukesh was never called as the chief coach and he has to work under Harendra, who has worked his way back after falling out.”

While Batra was not available for comment, Mukesh stressed that he has no problems working under a foreign coach but not under Harendra. “The most important thing is your ideas need to be executed. Under Harendra, I don’t think I will be able to work to the fullest of my abilities. That is why I am packing off.”

In another surprise development, sacked custodian Baljit Singh has been appointed as the goalkeeping coach, just two months after he hit out at national coach Michael Nobbs for being instrumental in his axing. The other coaches who would be joining the camp are Lazarus Barla and Sandeep Sanghwan.

Meanwhile sources from Sports Authority of India, New Delhi -- who sent the probables list to Bangalore -- said they got no information on Mukesh being appointed as chief coach. “HI told us Harendra has named chief coach and accordingly forwarded the list to Bangalore.”

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