New Delhi, Nov 6: He was the coach of Indian Airlines when Harendra Singh was a player there, contracted with mere Rs 250 stipend.
Initially, Indian Airlines did not provide him with a full-time job as he could not don India shirts in an Olympic game. It was Harendra’s claim.
During this tough time, it was Olympian Ashok Kumar -- the son of legendary India captain Major Dhyanchand -- who came forward and initiated for Harendra so that he could at least survive. It was long back, around 22 years ago.
Ashok was elated when contacted after Indian women's team created history in the Asia Cup hockey on Sunday (November 5), breaking a 13-year-old jinx to win the coveted title beating China in an exciting 5-4 thriller via penalty-shoot out in Japan.
Harendra, the coach of junior World Cup Indian team, took charge of women’s hockey team last year and guided them towards the title as well as an assurance of participating in the Women’s Hockey World Cup next year after a span of long eight years.
Indian women had last participated in the World Cup in 2010 while they failed to qualify for the prestigious championship in the last edition in 2014.
Ashok revealed he was able to assess that, one day, Harendra would become one of India's leading coaches when he was a player of Indian Airlines. Harendra often struggled to get into the first eleven as country’s most of the top players were representing Indian Airlines that time.
The former Olympian clarified, “Harendra’s inquisitiveness was very sharp from that time. I was coach of the Indian Airlines that time. Harendra always asked me about the technique of coaching. If Harendra had not been into the team for any competitive match he had observed the opposition’s game minutely and asked me several questions in the training.
"I was his manager in the junior Indian team in 2010. Harendra was the coach as we toured Australia and New Zealand. I had seen during that trip how he used to study on a team's psychology, treatment till the midnight every day. Already seven years ago, Harendra had learned about GPS function and tried to implement it on the players during their training.”
Ashok feels it his high time that Harendra be promoted now. Ashok added, “Although the final decision will be taken by Hockey India but I personally feel Harendra -- who has already been awarded the Dronacharya -- should be promoted to a bigger assignment as a coach.”