Jürgen Klopp perfect role model for India's coaches: Rasquinha

Former hockey star Viren Rasquinha and athlete Anju Bobby George have asked the government to be patient with national coaches, including those from overseas.

By Ubaid Parkar

Jürgen Klopp’s ability to make Liverpool Premier League champions this year is a perfect example of what belief in a coach can do.

The Reds won the league after a gap of 30 years and it was largely due to Klopp's long-term strategy with the club.

Former Indian hockey star Viren Rasquinha feels there is a message for India's sports administrators here.

Viren Rasquinha, who drew parallels between the perseverance of the German manager at the English club and the recent announcement to extend coaches’ contracts across various disciplines in India, said Klopp is a perfect template to emulate. Back coaches, believe in them, he said.

“You always need a little bit of time with the coach to implement his plans. It doesn’t happen overnight,” Viren Rasquinha reasoned while speaking to the Olympic Channel over the phone.

“I mean, look at Klopp. When he came in (at Liverpool), he said he would win a title in four years. He won the Champions League at the end of his fourth year, the Premier League in his fifth season.

“So, it takes time to work, especially with teams. You don’t get overnight success,” the former Indian hockey captain pointed out.

When Jürgen Klopp took over in 2015, Liverpool finished eighth in that Premier League season, then fourth in the next two before emerging runners-up in 2018/19 and champions just days ago, showcasing the steady rise of the club.

A similar kind of persistence could pay off for India at the Olympics as well.

An Olympic Task Force recommendation

The sports ministry, on Thursday, announced the extension of the existing contracts of the coaches till September 2021, in view of the postponement of the Tokyo Games.

The ministry said it will draw up four-year contracts to ensure continuity in the coaching process during an Olympic cycle.

The appointments, however, will be reviewed annually and extended on the basis of a coach’s overall performance, indicated by the performance of athletes in major international events.

Viren Rasquinha was also glad to see authorities implement recommendations made by the Olympic Task Force, set up following Rio 2016.

“One of the key recommendations of the Olympic Task Force, that I was a part of, was to improve the overall status of the coaches in the country.”. 

“One of the primary ingredients that go into building Olympic champions and champion teams is the coach.

“A part of that is stability and consistency in our coaches, especially over an Olympic cycle. There cannot be too much chopping and changing,” he said suggesting that patience would be key if they were to see coaches deliver results. 

System needs to support coaches

Meanwhile, for Indian track and field star, Anju Bobby George, the decision to extend the coaches’ contracts was a no brainer.

“They (coaches) play a very important role in shaping the sporting future of the country. The system has to support the coaches and take care of them. I see this decision as a move in the right direction,” she said. 

“We always celebrate the champions, but never do ask about the support system that helped in creating the champion. 

“We need to start caring for the ones who help the athletes reach the heights in their career. That’s the most important role for the system. 

“I think we owe it to the coaches,” said  Anju Bobby Geroge, who also serves as the chairperson of IOA’s Athlete’s Commission.

Need to be prepared for the Games

While uncertainties still loom large due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the coaches will have to soon get down to business to prepare for the season ahead.

Though a tough task stares at them in the coming months, Viren Rasquinha believed that the coaches will have to come up with plans to ensure that the athletes are in top shape when called upon to compete. 

“There’s very little that you or I can do about the pandemic,” he said. 

“We will have to prepare like the Olympics will start on July 23, 2021. What does the future look like? That’s out of our control. But you need to be ready when the time comes. There cannot be excuses from our athletes and the quality of our preparations.”