Dhanraj Pillay wants to coach India

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Doha, May 26 (UNI) After serving the country for 15 long years as a player, mercurial striker Dhanraj Pillay wants to continue the good work and leave his mark as a coach.

''Definitely. Some time in the future I would like to coach India,'' Pillay told Peninsula On-line.

He, however, added that he would like to prepare himself carefully before taking the plunge.

''I know it is not easy to coach any side. There are a lot of things to learn about coaching. I would like to prepare myself before taking up coaching responsibilities. It is entirely different from playing. While coaching you have a lot of things to focus on,'' he said.

Pillay, who had fallen out with German coach Gerard Rach during the Atens Olympics in 2004, felt home grown coaches would do a better job with the Indian team than their foreign counterparts.

However, he was in favour of retaining legendary Australian coach Ric Charlesworth who is the technical director of Team India.

''I don't think we need a foreign coach. It was a blunder by the IHF to bring Germany's Rach few years back. Communication is a vital part of coaching. Our players might not be at ease in following what a foreigner says,'' he stated. ''But there are renowned coaches in other countries. Australian Ric Charlesworth is one of them. We can seek Charlesworth's help, who led Australian women's team to Olympic glory. If at all we need any foreign assistance we should hire the services of Charlesworth who is one of the greatest. However, an Indian should be the chief coach and can have a consultant from outside.'' The 39-year-old, who is a part of the ad-hoc selection committee appointed by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), emphasised the need to develop a large talent pool as a back-up for the national team and pledged to give another chance to senior players who had been discarded by the previous IHF regime led by KPS Gill.

''I, as a selector, would like to have a pool of 40 to 50 players to choose from. It is necessary to train them, and select the best to represent the country,'' Pillay said.

''I am also looking at players like Len Aiyappa, Vikram Pillay, Arjun Halappa, and Hariprasad, who played for India and were later ignored by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) earlier,'' he added.

''I feel age should not be a factor in selecting a player. As long he is good to play for the country we will pick him.

''As a selector, I would like to be with the team and also select the best for India. There are senior players who are part of the selection committee. Aslam Sher Khan, Ajitpal Singh, Zafar Iqbal and Ashok Kumar are part of the committee. I am the youngest in the panel. IOA has chosen me and I will do my best.'' Asserting that there is no lack of talent in the country, the former Indian captain said, ''Among others things, we also need to go to remote areas and spot talented youngsters. There is no dearth of talent in our country. We need to pick them and give proper training.

''We need to revive our National Hockey Championship (Rangaswamy Cup). We can unearth the available talent during this championship.

It is important to get the National Championship going.'' Urging the hockey fraternity to learn from the current national craze - cricket - Pillay said hockey needs to market itself better to regain popularity.

''Just like cricket, even hockey can be popular in India. The only difference between the two sports is the way it has been marketed,'' he felt. ''Unless you market the game properly, it is tough to get the audience. I feel we need a PR firm to manage and bring in sponsor for hockey. I am sure there are many followers for hockey and it can be as popular as cricket.'' He was optimistic about the future of Indian hockey now that former IHF chief KPS Gill has been forced to step down.

''This should have happened three years ago but now things have changed. We should forget what has happened and move forward,'' he remarked. ''The Indian government has been supporting the game now with MS Gill, the sports minister in the forefront of helping hockey regain its lost glory.'' ''I can assure you we will see good results for Indian hockey with the focus on World Cup and Commonwealth Games in 2010,'' he added.

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