Triumph and Trauma of a Coach
M. K. Kaushik with K. Arumugam
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War of Words with Gill
|Pillai asked what had the IHF done to improve the lot
of the players. Aldrin highlighted the fact that the much promised
quarterly payments plan was never implemented. Mukesh also demanded periodic
The players' no-nonsense views surprised me. They were not mincing words. The habitual low voices, shy facial expressions and bowed heads were conspicuous by their absence.
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he first time that Gill met the team was in the Taj Mansingh hotel - 5 days after we won the gold! We had just finished breakfast when we met Gill in a hall.
As we all gathered, I told the players that they had always wanted to discuss with the IHF president, and here he is for a frank conversation. To this, Gill uncharacteristically retorted, "Your coach talks too much." That sudden outburst silenced me subsequently.
Gill informed the players that he was presenting the players and coaches Rs. 1 lakh each, for a total of Rs. 18 lakhs - the highest amount ever paid to hockey players in India. He maintained that rewards are proportional to performance, and asked from where money would come if we kept failing.
Most of the players did not buy his version. Anil Aldrin, Mukesh Kumar, Ashish Ballal, Dhanraj Pillai and perhaps one more player unambiguously stated how his observations were wrong. Pillai asked what had the IHF done to improve the lot of individual players. Aldrin highlighted the fact that the much promised quarterly payments plan was never implemented. Mukesh also demanded periodic incentives.
Most of the players harped on one point - though a lot of money had come into the IHF's coffers, a big slice of that was spent on undeserving officials' frequent foreign jaunts.
The players' no-nonsense views surprised me. They were not mincing words at all. The habitual low voices, shy facial expressions and bowed heads were conspicuous by their absence. I felt the players and the IHF were negotiating on an equal footing.
Gill became visibly angry. I could notice his strong disapproval of the player's tirades. Surely he was not naive to expect that the players would heap praise on him for the Asiad success. He should have anticipated that the players would use this historic occasion to air their long-pending grievances.
Even now, I don't know if that hour with Gill worked as a force multiplier or a force degrader. I thought it won't be long before the emperor would strike back.
Within an hour or two, the IHF held its prize award function. A few officials and the press were the only invitees. At the outset itself, Gill informed that no questions would be entertained on this occasion.
After the function was over, he gave a punch line, off the record, "Itne khush ho gaye hain ki humko bhi gaali dena shuru kar diye hain" - the players have become so happy that that are even scolding the IHF.
During the function, I felt that many of the IHF officials were avoiding me. They had, perhaps, decided against my continuation by this time, and hence the cold shoulder.
The service boy informed me that I should vacate the hotel within an hour. I felt bad. I rang up my brother and asked him to come to the hotel and pick me up. I went to the rooms of almost all the players and wished them adieu.
The players knew of the internal manoeuverings. I just told them, "I don't want to be here any longer." That was my parting shot.
K. P. S. Gill to the Indian Team - "Your Coach Talks Too Much"