Graham Reid is new men's India hockey team coach
Graham Reid will be the new men's hockey coach and in charge of leading the Indian campaign to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and eventually do well in the quadrennial extravaganza.
It's almost three weeks since Hockey India had made its presentation to the Sports Authority of India and the sports ministry on the three choices as the coach for the team. While there was an urgency for the file to be cleared, strangely the last ten days were wasted.
Finally, on Monday, the file was cleared by the sports ministry. Government sources told Mail Today the reason for clearing Reid's appointment late was his monthly salary and certain conditions in his service contract.
Reid will be in the same salary bracket as the former high-performance director who later became the coach, Roelant Oltmans. Oltmans was fired in 2017, a year after India did badly in the Rio Olympics. The ministry had initially felt $15,000 per month was "very high for Reid."
A formula has now been worked out wherein the government will be paying $13,500 every month and Hockey India will be chipping in with $1,500 every month for the new coach.
In addition, as per Reid's contract, he will be entitled to three economy class return fares to Australia which can be used by him or his family. However, Reid himself is in favour of staying in Bengaluru where most of the national camps are held.
"It's an honour and a privilege to be appointed as chief coach. No other country has a history in this sport that can compare to India. As an opposition coach, I have enjoyed watching first hand, the steady rise of the Indian team to one of the most exciting and threatening teams in world hockey," said Reid.
"My wife will also be moving to India in August and we are very happy to be making a home in Bengaluru," he added.
As a player, Reid was top class. He was a member of the Australian team which won silver in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
As a full back and midfielder, Reid is very conversant with modern hockey. He was also a member of the Aussie squads which won the Champions Trophy four times.
In coaching, Reid has worked with the Australian national team with success and also been well respected in Europe. The moment his club in Holland came to know he had applied for the India job, he was fired.
To be sure, hiring a foreign coach has not been easy for Hockey India. The experiment to shift from a foreign coach to a desi coach did not have the desired results. Harendra Singh was given the mandate but the team failed to deliver at the Asian Games and the FIH World Cup last year. Had the Indian team won gold in the Asian Games in Jakarta and qualified for the Tokyo Olympics, it may have been a different story.
Once the team was unable to raise its level, Hockey India felt it would be best to hand the team back to a foreign coach. There are several coaches from Australia who have been part of India's campaigns before from Ric Charlesworth to Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh.
Reid will be given the power to deal with the team and the support coaching staff the way he wants. At a time when the role of high-performance director David John and Chris Ciriello is also under the scanner, Reid will judge what needs to be done.
It may take a few weeks for his work permit to come before he can join the camp in Bengaluru. Given the good relations between India and Australia, it's hoped Reid's paperwork will be fast-tracked. His contract runs till the end of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.