Sunday, September 2, 2012

Is Paul Lissek Hockey India's HPM choice?

By Uthra Ganesan Chaturvedi

Hockey India has announced the appointment of a High Performance Manager by the end of next month. Even though they have insisted that they are yet to shortlist the candidates – the person appointed would be responsible for development of a complete structure for hockey in India with all the coaches, including national coach Michael Nobbs, reporting to him -- sources claim that German Paul Lissek is a clear favourite.
    Lissek spent almost a decade in Malaysia as their technical director with mixed results. Though Malaysia won their first-ever bronze in Asian Games and Commonwealth Games when he was the coach, subsequenty he could not produce much as a coach.
  Lissek may have been assistant to Ric Charlesworth for London Olympics but his contribution to modern hockey and the teams he has been with has been nothing of note. In fact, he came on Ric’s team only in the final year of preparation, by which time the Australian team was almost settled for the Games. Lissek was also considered and rejected by the Pakistan Hockey Federation, mainly because of his inability to understand the subcontinental style.
  It will also have to be seen whether his defensive style would gel with Nobb’s preference to play attacking hockey. A strong personality like Ric may have been able to get his way, mainly because Ric was in charge in Australia. Here, Lissek will be in charge, which means more tussles.
  Most importantly, the concept of a high performance manager (HPM) itself is tricky. Countries that have the position – like Germany, Holland or New Zealand – have a proper structure in place, clearly-defined roles and a set hierarchy, with the federation not interfering in sporting matters. The technical director handles technical and management issues, including stuff like getting technological support, laying the turf and other such logistical matters. In these countries, he doesn’t interfere with the coaching or selection issues.
  Here, Nobbs will be answerable to Lissek with the latter having final say on contentious issues. The only time that happened was when New Zealand Cricket appointed Charlesworth as HPM – and they had to end the association abruptly in less than a year after the players protested against his high-handedness!
  Under these circumstances, it looks Indian hockey is in for more churning.