“If we change coaches this frequently, then something apparently is wrong with our system. It reflects poorly on us and it would definitely affect the on-field performance of the Indian national team,” the triple Olympic gold medallist told PTI in an exclusive interview reacting to sacking of Terry Walsh and Van Ass in a space of eight months.

Only two days back, Dutch coach Paul Van Ass created a flutter by claiming that he has been fired by Hockey India following his alleged public altercation with federation president Narinder Batra, throwing the sport into yet another phase of uncertainty.

Balbir Sr knows a thing or two about man management having guided India to its only World Cup triumph in 1975 feels that if are recruiting foreign coaches, then we should also learn to respect them.

“If we do not appoint an Indian coach and invite a foreign coach, then we should treat him with due respect. We should give that person adequate opportunities, because his own reputation is equally involved,” Balbir Sr said.

Without taking HI chief Narinder Batra’s name, the former Indian hockey captain made it clear that administrator should refrain from giving technical inputs as it is the sole domain of a coach. “During a tournament, the administrator has no role to play in the technical aspect of the game,” he added.

Over the past few years, HI has stressed on getting a foreign coach on board, paying them handsome salaries. The last Indian coach to take charge of the senior team was Joaquim Carvalho, who had a one-year stint that ended in 2008.

But four foreign coaches — Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs, Terry Walsh and in all likelihood Van Ass now — have had unceremonious pre-mature exits. Balbir Sr however suggested that Van Ass should be encouraged to come back.

“The team still has one year to go to the Olympics. As per the President of HI, Van Ass is still the coach and should be encouraged to come back and take charge of his wards to ensure continuity from now till the Rio Olympics,” he said.

“The same sort of situation was there in 1975 but our combined efforts and persistent hard work won us the World Cup,” the legend added. When asked about what would be his advice for the team to do well in Olympic, he said that players should concentrate on on-field activities without thinking about the off the field drama.

“What the mind can conceive, your brain can believe and you can achieve. Set specific and clear goals. Commit to them and focus on achieving them. Leave the rest of the clutter and drama aside mentally,” stated one of the finest centre forward, who scored a record five goals against the Netherlands in the 1952 Olympic Games final in Helsinki.

“My best wishes are always there for each and every member of the squad. All I will tell them is work hard, play for each other and think positive. The spot at the top is always vacant,” he concluded.

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