Triumph and Trauma of a Coach
M. K. Kaushik with K. Arumugam
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IHF is Gill, Gill is IHF
|Gill had mastered the art of being in the news.
I don't think any other IHF president was so well covered in the print and
visual media for such a sustained spell. He had all the characteristics
required to be a darling of the media.
The only regret was that he used all these credentials, opportunities and his bigger-than-life image to downgrade the Bangkok Asiad success.
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he Indian Hockey Federation has eight vice-presidents, a secretary general and treasurer, three assistant secretaries and many executive members in its rather lengthy list of office bearers. None of these posts ever remains vacant.
In addition, many time-servers are accomodated in artificially created slots like Public Relations Officer, Protocol Officer, etc., posts which the IHF constitution does not provide for.
But if one opens any newspaper, or clicks on any television channel, it is always the omnipresent IHF president, Kanwar Pal Singh Gill, enlightening the nation on hockey affairs. Others don't come into the limelight, not even in the regional media. For all practical purposes, they are nobodies. It is a plain and simple fact that Gill constitutes the soul of the IHF.
I fully agree with one of the credentials in his biodata, 'Expertise in Media Management'. On our return from Bangkok, hardly a week passed without his interview appearing in the leading newspapers. In addition, he was there in every television channel one remembers, and in popular news magazines.
Gill had surely mastered the art of being in the news. I don't think any other IHF president was so well covered in the print and visual media for such a sustained spell.
He had all the characteristics required to be a darling of the media - his past record in stopping cross-border terrorism, an august figure, silver tongue, crisp comments, punctuating remarks and characteristic repartees. The only regret was that he used all these credentials, opportunities and his bigger-than-life image to downgrade our Asiad success, defend the indefensibles and castigate the players and coaches.
Even on the day the IHF presented us the monetary award in the Taj Mansingh hotel (December 24, 1998), Gill told Alok Sinha of The Indian Express, "In my opinion, the opposition in Bangkok was very weak. South Korea is not among the top five teams in the world. Pakistan is in the process of rebuilding. The victory came through the tie-breaker. So we have to view the Bangkok triumph in the right perspective."
If winning the Asian Games hockey gold was not a significant victory, as we and the entire nation thought, then why did Gill sack Zafar Iqbal, coach of the previous (1994) Asiad team? At Hiroshima, India lost only one match - the final. We bowed to the same South Korea 2-3 in an honourable manner. If Gill considered the Asiad hockey title of small acclaim, there was no reason to use the result of the 1994 Asiad as a yardstick to fire former India captain Zafar Iqbal.
Till our Bangkok victory, India had won the Asiad hockey title only once before, way back in 1966. We had reached the Asiad hockey final on nine previous occasions, and lost an unbelievable eight times! It continued to perplex sports policy makers, planners and players how India continuously flopped in the Asiad hockey final.
Like Australia never winning the Olympic hockey gold, and England never winning the cricket World Cup, India's failure in the Asiad was a blemish in the proud record of Indian hockey. Was it not shameful that India failed to win the Asiad final eight out of nine times? Was not breaking out of the stranglehold of our past dismal record and winning the Asiad title a watershed in Indian hockey?
Instead of encouraging the victory-starved nation to celebrate and cherish this golden moment, the IHF attempted to downgrade this landmark achievement. The IHF unleashed a campaign of calumny and belittled our success on all possible platforms - personal talks, press interviews and television programmes. This propaganda was done in a systematic way in the hope that constant repetition from all sources in the media would camouflage the truth.
I was pained as much as I was surprised to see this sinister and bizarre attempt by the IHF to mislead the nation. That's why I want to set the record straight as much as I can.
Autocratic Gill Fires Coaches Zafar, Bhaskaran and Kaushik
All Members of the Victorious 1980 Moscow Olympics Team