CHENNAI: Down 2-3 with ten minutes left in their match against Central Excise in the Chennai Hockey Association Super Six League on Saturday, Integral Coach Factory (ICF) assistant coach Alex David decided to go all out in search of an equaliser, and they duly went on to score two to seal the match.
Alex, a former Railways hockey player himself, said this was because of the experience in his squad. “We haven’t recruited anyone for two years, and I had to make do with players at our disposal. That isn’t a bad thing, for we have some experienced players, and their performance was vital in the win,” he said.
Recruitment has been the problem of late for the factory team. But Alex, standing in for head coach Suresh Babu, who is busy on Railways duty, for this event, says there are plans to conduct a recruitment drive next year. “There is a proposal going on to conduct recruitment next year, for which the decision will be made by January or February. We have to go ahead with that by March, which is the last date.”
The 38-year-old feels his team lags behind the likes of Indian Overseas Bank and Indian Bank in terms of bench strength. “Since we haven’t been able to recruit, our bench strength has gotten weak. Most players are older, so we have to make do with the experience factor. We had players from Services some time back, but things have changed now,” he revealed.
Captain A Raja says ICF prefer to give local players a chance, rather than look outside. “Whenever we conduct scouting, we prefer to bring in local talent, and as much as possible, we keep away from north Indian players. If we do not give upcoming players from the state a platform, then who will,” he argues.
Despite these issues, ICF have done well in the Chennai League since the time Raja joined, in 2004. “We have finished second eight times since I have joined, while we won in my first year. So it hasn’t all been gloomy,” says the Grade 1 technician, who joined as a factory worker before gaining promotion.