Former captain of India hockey Sardar Singh had created a stir after his sudden retirement in September 2018 post India's ordinary Asian Games campaign. Now, Sardar has opened up on his retirement and the former midfielder blamed it on current High-Performance Director (HPD), David John, and former coach, Sjoerd Marijne, for forcing him to call it quits.
Sardar told TOI, “There were a lot of reasons behind my decision (to retire). After Oltmans was removed as coach, a lot of things happened. John and another foreign coach (Sjoerd Marijne) wanted to try new players. We won the (2017) Asia Cup and I was hoping to continue. But I was dropped without any discussion. Then I was sent to the (2018) Sultan Azlan Shah Cup with some junior players, but when I came back, I was ignored again for the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Gold Coast. So I started doubting myself at times, started questioning myself, despite being fit,” he further added.
Sardar, who made 350 international appearances in his 12-year-long career, added that he was scoring high points in the yo-yo test (ever bettering Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli's tally) and remains uncertain on why he was termed “slow” by John in an interaction. "I was never fast, my game has never been like that. So I don’t know why John said that. I was told that I am playing individual hockey and then John asked me to play as a free man, which I accepted as well,” Sardar opined.
Sardar, who led India from 2008 to 2016, added that he was not happy with the coach Marijne’s constant chopping and changing methods ahead of the Commonwealth Games 2018, wherein India failed to grab a medal. “Every coach has his own methods. We were called to the breakfast and told that there is a list posted on your room door. Those who have their name on it can come to the ground, the others will be briefed later,” he said.
“You generally change 2-3 players before a tournament, not the seniors who are the core of a team. That pack of 10-12 players should rather be given confidence. If you change players suddenly, and also coaches, it makes things difficult, especially in a team sport,” Sardar said.
After the CWG 2018 debacle, Marijne lost his job as India head coach. They grabbed a consolatory medal, bronze, in the Asia Cup following which Sardar was axed from list of probables selected for Asian Champions Trophy. Following this, he announced retirement.
About the Author
Aditya Sahay, a former cricket reporter/writer and statistician, has shifted gears to other sports (primarily badminton, tennis, kabaddi, hockey, golf etc). While cricket remains his first love, he enjoys covering and writing on kabaddi, hockey and tennis. He dons Germanys jersey during FIFA and believes Dhoni Dhoni hai, isko (aur) mauka mila toh bahut aage jayega