New Delhi, Sept 4 (UNI) Stressing on the need to impart the knowledge of game from the school level itself, former Olympian Zafar Iqbal today said if country wishes to see its glorious hockey days again, its youth has to be nurtured from the beginning and discarded the inclusion of foreign experts to train Indian players.
Talking to mediapersons here, Zafar said, ''If we look at the European teams, most of their players are from University levels.
Even we need to add the game in the school and college curriculum to generate interest among the youth.'' ''We have to work at the grassroot level. State Association know nothing about the game and are hardly doing anything for its survival,'' he pointed.
He said such a practice will not only help in generating interest among the youngsters but will also produce a larger pool of players to pick when they are ready to be unleashed at the highest level.
Zafar, who is also a member of the adhoc committe which took over from the KPS Gill-led IHF, asserted that the blame for the state of the game in the country has to be shared amongst everyone and also held players responsible for it.
''If we say there is no money and recognition in the game, we are absolutely wrong. You show the performance and you will get the accolades and results.
''Agreed that the facilities provided to our players stand no where close to what European teams get. But still the standard of the game has gone down a lot,'' he remarked.
With some recent good showings in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and the junior Asia Cup, Zafar said the road map should be made with the 2010 Hockey World Cup and Commonwealth Games as the top priority.
One of the finest hockey players that India has ever produced, Zafar, felt that there are many stalwarts of the game present within the country and therefore, there is no need to invite foreign coaches.
''I guess we have produced some of the best players of the world and we don't need people from abroad to teach our players.
Our former players are more skillfull than anyone in the world,'' he noted.
When asked about Ric Charlesworth's experience with the Indian hockey, Zafar quipped, ''We did not lose anything. Neither did he give anything to us nor did he take anything.'' ''His presence hardly made any impact and probably that is why his term was ended before the tenure,'' he added.
Zafar further asserted that the European teams have taken the standard of the game to new heights and introduced many new technies while the Indians reached a state of stagnation.
UNI RAR RKM HS1930