One of the International Hockey Federation’s field experts, Ghulam Ghous, is proposing a six-year toe-to-top plan for the development of field hockey in Cambodia.
“Hockey is a relatively new experience for Cambodia. It takes a long time and huge effort to build a good team and that process should start now,” Ghous told the Post in an exclusive chat yesterday. “Our realistic target should be 2018, by which time the country could be ready for Asian Games qualification.”
The former Pakistan international, now working as the head coach of the Macau national team as well as an instructor at the Malaysia-based Asian Hockey Academy, is conducting a week-long Youth Leadership Certificate course for budding hockey coaches under the Olympic Solidarity movement.
The course, which has attracted 14 participants including three women, officially concludes on Saturday at the National Olympic Committee of Cambodia headquarters.
“I can clearly see the potential,” said Ghous. “What Cambodian hockey needs is guidance and direction. What I have in mind is a step by step approach. From basic skills to high performance through various other crucial phases of development like physicality, speed, ball control, strategy,” added the coach, who has had stints in Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan, Myanmar and Sudan, apart from handling the Pakistan junior string.
“We have been going around Phnom Penh in search of a good playing facility which is vital for the game. A couple of options are looking good at the moment. We are also working with a few NGOs on this.”
Women, the IHF official contended, could play a brighter role in the country’s hockey evolution. According to him, going indoors with six-player formats could work wonders for Cambodia and that it could be lot easier to build these teams from a core of 15 to 20 players.
“As far as women’s hockey is concerned, I strongly feel that Cambodia should seek help from its hockey strong neighbours like Thailand and Malaysia, who have already pledged support.”
Ghous sees the future of the sport in the Kingdom growing from a grassroots foundation. “Take hockey to the schools and concentrate on youth development and start building from the bottom up. If we take the right steps, Cambodia should be in a position to field a team in the next SEA Games [in Myanmar in 2013] if not the one after that [in Singapore in 2015].
“The participants of this course could play a major role in sustaining this development because they can take hockey in the right direction if they stay on and play their roles to the fullest.”
Meanwhile, head coach of the Cambodian national team, Rana Asif Maqsood, confirmed to the Post that Ghulam Ghous would make a return trip after three or four months to evaluate the progress made on several of his proposals that the Cambodian Hockey Federation had already accepted for implementation.