Who won the medals for India in the Olympics 2016 – it was Sindhu and Sakshi and the lady who won the heart of Indians was Dipa Karmakar – all of them had a common element – that is they had an Indian coach.

Behind every player who brings a medal back home, or performs extremely well in his or her sport, there is one person who puts in an equal amount of hard work to achieve success. And that is the coach; the person who leaves no stone un-turned to make sure that his or her players are giving their best. Despite many challenges and barriers, there are some people who have quietly worked in the background to turn things around for Indian sports. They fight conditions and structures that are far from perfect to get the best for their disciples. They make sacrifices that hardly ever get recognized but help them in establishing a connection with the player and make champions out of them. These are the coaches who work day in and day out not for their own, but their disciples’ glory. A number of Indian coaches have inspired the nation by producing world class locally nurtured talent in various disciplines.  Anoop Singh (Wrestling) Three time national champion and international wrestler, started coaching Indian wrestlers and has trained around 58 people including Sushil Kumar, Yogeshwar Dutt, Amit Dhankhar, Satyawart Kadian, Bajrang, Amit Dahiya, Geetika Jakhar and many more. His coaching has been extremely effective for his students, and over six of them have won the Arjuna award.    Naval Singh (Paralympics) trained the Indian Paralympics team for the London Olympics too. His student, Jyoti bagged two bronze medals at the Para-Asian Games in 2014.    Nihar Ameen (Swimming) winner of the Dronacharya Award in 2015, Among his trainees are the first Indian athletes to qualify for the Olympics, Shikha Tandon at Athens, 2004 and Virdhawal Khade and Sandeep Sejwal for Beijing, 2008.        Harbans Singh (Athletics) coached Paramjeet Singh, who broke Milkha Singh’s 38-year-old national record for 400-metres in 1998. He is also known to have trained athletes who won silver in the Bangkok Asian Games relay event, and broke the jinx for the country in men’s track events.      S.A Rahim (Football) regarded as the architect of modern Indian football, his tenure as a coach is regarded as the “golden age” of football in India. He led the Indian team to the semi-finals of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Football tournament making India the first ever Asian country to achieve this place.        Gopi Chand (Badminton) winner of Arjuna Award in 1999, the Dronacharya Award in 2009 and the Padma Bhushan – India’s third highest civilian award – in 2014.Produced several badminton players including Saina Nehwal, P. V. Sindhu, Parupalli Kashyap, Srikanth Kidambi, Arundhati Pantawane, Gurusai Datt and Arun Vishnu. Saina Nehwal went on to win the bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and P.V. Sindhu the silver medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics. THE HELPING HAND TO FOREIGN COACHES Sadly, in India, the majority of local coaches are not given due recognition, motivation, support, encouragement and facilities in comparison to a foreign coach. A foreign coach who comes for one or two years gets most things he or she wants but at the same time an Indian coach has to run from pillar to post for everything, whether it is a salary, perks, training facility, accommodation, travel, facilities for players, etc., there is pure discrimination against Indian coaches and they are not treated at par with the foreign counterpart. Foreign coaches come for a few years, most of them try to work on a short term approach, since they know they won’t be in India for long and in order to show result within short term the approach some time is detrimental to athlete and Indian sport. It is not that India should not employ foreign coaches – India does require best of experts but their utilisation has to be planned carefully and they should be utilised for the best outcome including training and empowering Indian coaches. THE CHANGE IN MINDSET

Indian coaches are working hard and proving that they are not inferior to their foreign counterpart.

The entire mind set towards Indian coaches by our officials has to change, local coaches have to get timely support, respect, facility, encouragement and education in order to take the Indian sport forward. Indian coaches are not inferior in any way but due to lack of exposure, empowerment and support many of them unable to develop themselves. There are many talented coaches and minds in India but the pure arbitrary nature of promoting coaches without basic support and encouragement many talented people change their track to something else. This has to change for better if India have to improve its sporting culture and produce world beaters It is foolish to think that bringing one foreign coach in each discipline and ignoring Indians will change the fortune of sports in the country. WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE

Grooming and nurturing talents in sports it is equally important to groom and nurture local coaches in every discipline

Foreign coaches have to come and work in a system which is developed by Indians and not vice versa, otherwise, there is no consistency and after every new coach the system and philosophy changes – which only means putting the investment down the drain. Producing a world beater or a champion involves roughly 7000 to 10,000 hours of dedicated work and this can only be done by local coaches if these coaches are empowered, trained, encouraged, supported and made accountable. What Indians coaches have achieved in Rio will definitely boost the local coaches and authorities will promote the local coaches in a big way by adopting a transparent and merit based system. Give the freedom and right kind of support to Indian coaches and see what local coaches can achieve. A nation of 1.2 billion has got incredible talent and potential in sports and we have to understand that it is we as Indians who have to fight, sacrifice, dedicate, sweat, endure and push to win medals for the motherland.

By Shaji Prabhakaran

Football Consultant| Sports Expert| President Football Delhi (FA)| Author| Ex-FIFA/AIFF| Consultant AFC, FIFA, ICC| CIES| Development| Management|

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