ESPN India Awards 2017: Gopi, Harendra shine in Coach of the Year nominations

ESPN India Awards: Coach of the Year (1:40)

Nominees for Coach of the Year. (1:40)

From miracle man Khalid Jamil to the inimitable mentor Pullela Gopichand, here are the nominees for the Coach of the Year.

Khalid Jamil

What they did in 2017

Khalid Jamil, who took charge of Mumbai FC as coach in 2009 at just 32, had a reputation as a coach who could make a frugally-run team escape relegation year after year. In 2017, he was brought to Aizawl FC, and took them to the first national league title for a team from the North-east. He used innovative tactics, playing striker Alfred Jaryan and winger Jayesh Rane in central midfield, and even convinced Syrian midfielder Mahmoud Amnah to come play for Aizawl by speaking to him in Arabic.

In their own words

"I was scared because I had to do well. But there was nothing familiar to me. I didn't know the players, I didn't know the city. Playing out of my comfort zone was tough. And Aizawl was completely outside my comfort zone."

- Jamil, speaking on his first coaching venture outside of Mumbai

Pullela Gopichand

What they did in 2017

Pullela Gopichand has long been the gold standard for coaching in India. In 2017, Gopichand only cemented his claim to be one of the best coaches on the international circuit as well with Indian badminton players winning a record seven Superseries singles titles between them. The faith Indian players have in him was re-emphasised when his former ward and Olympic bronze medallist Saina Nehwal decided to get back to training under him in September.

In their own words

"It is okay to lose. If players lose, they lose. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter. It is important that they either win and benefit from it, or they lose and they learn."

- Gopichand on his coaching mantra

Stephen Constantine

What they did in 2017

Under Stephen Constantine, India played nine matches in 2017, winning seven and drawing the other two. Their unbeaten run in international games, including one unofficial friendly in Bhutan in 2016, now stretches to 13. They qualified for the AFC Asian Cup in 2019, their first since 2011. All the success didn't go unrewarded in FIFA rankings -- India reached a two-decade high of 96 in 2017.

In their own words

"For me the ranking are a rough guide as to your overall progress as a team. It is difficult to say we are in this position when you see other bigger and better teams below as a result of perhaps not playing enough games or whatever the reason. The main thing is we are moving up -- that's not a bad thing."

- India coach Constantine on the importance of India's improved rankings in 2017

Harendra Singh

What they did in 2017

It was an appointment that was followed by a lot of surprise, doubts and questions but Harendra Singh dispelled all of it in his very first assignment as coach of the senior women's hockey team. He had never coached female players before or followed the senior women's team closely until the Hockey World League in Johannesburg earlier in the year, but the Dronacharya awardee guided the side to an Asia Cup title, a first for the women's team in 13 years and finished the tournament unbeaten.

In their own words

"I had three years to prepare the junior men's team but less than 25 days to train the girls. So the satisfaction of both wins is very different. But I am never satisfied."

- Harendra, when asked to compare his men's Junior World Cup and women's Asia Cup wins as coach

Mulyo Handoyo

What they did in 2017

Indian men won five of the 13 men's singles Superseries titles in 2017 and if one man had a defining impact on Indian badminton in the year gone by, it was Mulyo Handoyo. Having coached Taufik Hidayat to the title at the 2004 Olympics, Handoyo's shorter but more rigorous training session brought the best out of Kidambi Srikanth and HS Prannoy, who had their most successful year till date.

In their own words

"There is no secret to doing well. My training is simple but it is hard. But it is hard to be consistent. Everyone can work hard for one month and then stop."

- Handoyo on Srikanth's success in 2017

Ram Mehar Singh

What they did in 2017

Having been an integral part of the Indian team which won gold at the 2002 Asian Games, Ram Mehar Singh coached Patna Pirates to the Pro Kabaddi League title in 2017. His decision to install Pardeep Narwal as the captain invited mixed reactions from the experts but worked like a charm as the star raider led by example and his calm demeanour helped a young team in the big matches.

In their own words

"The coach told me to keep the corners under constant pressure. His advice was to attack the second or third [cover defence positions] because in the previous matches we were getting further into the corners unnecessarily and were getting tackled. So we changed our plan and attacked the number two or three [positions] repeatedly. I believe that is why we succeeded."

- Monu Goyat on how Singh's advice was critical to the team's strategy in the final