Important for youngsters to learn right techniques early, says Bharat Chetri

Former India men’s hockey team captain Bharat Chetri believes that younger players in the country need to learn the right techniques of the sport at an early age, and must also rectify/upgrade any basic techniques that they might have learned while growing up.

“I think as a former player, you understand how important it is to have the right technique to be able to be successful in this sport. I was a goalkeeper and it was really important for us to have learned the basics to excel.

“However, for us, all the right things came at a later stage as we grew more experienced and played around the world, but the advantage for the younger generation here in the country is that they have the facilities and the level of coaching available to them now,” said Chetri.

“You see how hockey has evolved around the world, and I am really happy that people associated with the sport in India are also learning the trade really well now. There are a lot of factors involved in it, such as more exposure to young players and in-depth knowledge provided to them on all the basics of the sport.

“It is really important that youngsters in the country are learning the right techniques early in their respective careers, because that sets them apart,” added the goalkeeping veteran.

Having represented India for more than a decade, Chetri went on to become the assistant coach of the national women’s team and has also served as the assistant coach of the men’s team in recent years.

During his tenure of playing for India and being part of the national coaches, Chetri has been able to follow the improving graph of Indian hockey closely, and believes it is down to a good coaching structure. “I feel having a systematic coaching structure is a massive aspect when it comes to development of players and the sport in the country.”

Winner of the silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games, and the bronze medal at the 2010 Asian Games, Chetri also went on to lead the Indian team that took part at the 2012 London Olympics. The former goalkeeper, who is now an employee of Canara Bank, has made sure he has stayed in touch with the sport, and wants to help young players achieve their dreams.

“Whenever I look back, I honestly feel I was not able to have a very successful career in terms of results for what I would have wanted to have achieved. So after I had decided to quit the sport, I saw coaching as an opportunity to fulfil my dreams through young players who can achieve so much more for the country,” said Chetri, who is a FIH Academy – Hockey India Coaching Education Pathway Level ‘1’ certified coach.

“In modern sport, it is important to stay updated, and I have been able to do that through these coaching courses. Coaching is not just restricted to making strategies and working on tactics, it is much more than that.

“I have been able to learn about most of the technicalities and also about the mental aspect of coaching. It is important to man-manage young players, and as a former international player, it really helps in making sure that your players are receiving the right guidance and understanding your point of view,” added Chetri.