Hockey India 'relieves' Nobbs

Aussie asked to leave within two years of his signing following team's poor show

Hockey India 'relieves' Nobbs

 India’s foreign hockey coach Michael Nobbs’ reign came to an early end after his contract was terminated by Sports Authority of India on the recommendation of Hockey India (HI).

The Indian team’s failure to make the semifinals in the recent World Hockey League in the Netherlands, where they finished sixth, proved to be the final nail in the coffin with Nobbs making an exit within two years of his hiring. The Australian had signed a five-year contract with HI in 2011.

Sports Authority of India Director General Jiji Thomson confirmed that Nobbs' contract was terminated on Monday on the grounds of below-par performance. He would now be serving one month’s notice period.

“The performance of the Indian team is a matter of grave concern to us. Nobbs was on SAI payroll and we were shelling out Aus $11,000 every month, which is a lot of money. But there has to be some results too.

HI along with Roelant Oltmans had a discussion with him and he offered to resign. The HI recommended it to us and we issued a notice for termination of the contract,” Thomson told Deccan Herald.  

“Ultimately, the call on coach is the concern of the federation.” 

Hockey India Secretary-general Narinder Batra said: "It was felt that Nobbs was unable to improve the team's performance or produce the desired results."
In Nobbs’ absence, the High-performance Director Oltmans would take over as a temporary replacement till the next coach is appointed.

The 58-year-old Oltmans would be assisted by former India player MK Kaushik for the next month's Asia Cup tournament in Malaysia. It is a must-win tournament for India if they have to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in the Netherlands.

Nobbs, who at present is in Australia,  joined the list of the three other foreign coaches who were shown the door. They were Jose Brasa (Spain), Ric Charlesworth (Australia) and Gerhard Rach (Germany).

After Brasa’s term ended with the 2010 Asian Games, Nobbs was looked up to as someone who could revive the past glory of Indian hockey. He spoke richly about country’s hockey skills and re-introduced the attacking style to the Indians. He raised hopes when India qualified for the Olympics after previous edition’s debacle but things hit rock bottom when the same team failed to win even a single match in the London Games, finishing at the bottom of the heap.

Former India hockey captain Pargat Singh, who was the chairman of  technical committee when Nobbs was selected and played a significant role in his appointment,  concurred with the decision to sack him but felt HI too was responsible for team’s dismal performance.

“When we started three years ago, we decided to hire him because his package suited us and he looked to bring attacking hockey back to our game, like Australia. He was not a great coach but he was the product of a structured set-up and we wanted the same in India. But unfortunately, nothing happened at the grass roots level,,” Pargat said.

“Hockey India is run by one man and things never looked up. We are the still at the same level when we started.”

Former India captain Zafar Iqbal said he found Nobbs “casual.”

“Nobbs  couldn’t bring any big change in the team in the last two years, he was very casual. Bringing back Kaushik is a good decision and with Oltmans around, things can look up for India.”

Another former captain Ajit Pal Singh was of the view that Nobbs should have been sacked immediately after the Olympics debacle.

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