The 69-year-old also spoke about the historic gold medal at the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
Former India captain V Baskaran believes the current national women’s hockey team has great potential and can achieve success at the upcoming Tokyo Olympics which have been postponed to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Indian women’s hockey team has never been able to win a medal at the Olympics. They came close in 1980 at the Moscow Olympics but failed to capture the medal as they finished on the fourth position. V Baskaran remarked, “Since I have watched this Women’s Team closely too, I feel they have great potential to do well.”
“They have shown good results against top teams in these past few years and they can surely be the dark horse in the tournament. I feel for both Men and Women’s Team, execution is the key. They have the talent, they need to execute to perfection. If they do, they can surely finish on the podium.”
V Baskaran was the captain of the Indian men’s hockey team which had won a historic gold medal at the Moscow Olympics after a long gap of 16 years. He credits the Gold Medal to a young but formidable team that included greats like Mohd Shahid, Zafar Iqbal, MM Somaya, Davinder Singh, MK Kaushik among others who went on to attain great stardom in Indian Hockey.
He recalled, “I remember when the team for the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games was announced, Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw who was heading the All India Council of Sports paid us a visit in Bangalore. His confidence-oozing talk remained with me all through the Olympic Games. He had said, ‘You look tough and you have a fire in your belly. Pass this on to your teammates. They are young and can play with speed. Play well and you will finish on the podium.”
“We were a very young squad and Barring Bir Bahadur Chhetri and me, no one else in that team had played at the Olympics before. But when I look back, I am filled with pride about my team. We had a formidable starting 11 with Davinder Singh as our penalty corner specialist, Sylvanus Dung Dung and Rajinder Singh joined him at the back. The right half was Gurmail Singh, Centre Half Ravinder Pal Singh who was just 19 years old from Uttar Pradesh Sports Hostel, Left half was me, Left-wing was Zafar Iqbal, Mohd Shahid centre forward, MK Kaushik and Amarjit Singh Rana the other two forwards.”
The former captain added, “Allen Schofield from Bangalore, Mervyn Fernandes, Surinder Singh Sodhi, MM Somaya and Charanjit Kumar were brilliant in their roles. Balakrishna Singh was our Coach and Dayanand from Kerala was our Manager. What brings me pride is that 7-8 players from this squad went on to play for India for another 8-10 years. They became the stars of Indian Hockey.”
V Baskaran also believes the current national men’s hockey team should not read too much into the results at the Hockey Pro League and should rather focus on executing their plans on the field during Tokyo Games.
He stated, “To achieve this kind of result, every single player needs to give his minimum 80 per cent if not 100. Every team at the Olympics come to win and they will do everything they can to stop you from giving your 100 per cent. Podium finishes cannot happen with just 4-5 players giving their 80 per cent and the rest giving their 60 per cent. Every single player needs to be consistent and for the Indian Men’s team the Chief Coach Graham Reid has pointed this out several times.”
“While playing the in Hockey Pro League against top teams it will set good momentum ahead of the Olympic Games, my advice is that the team should not read too much into the results. Olympics will be a very different stage compared to the Hockey Pro League and each player will be playing about 200 minutes of play on average with back to back matches,” Baskaran concluded.