indian hockey

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Team coach Roelant Oltmans assures continuity in tactics

If Indian hockey fans were wondering that a change in coaching personnel could have the Indian men’s team floundering with a different set of tactics or coaching methodology, High Performance Director and current coach Roelant Oltmans moved swiftly to address the ‘non-issue‘.

He said:

“During our practice at Shilaroo, we have been working on our attack as well as defence and in the process inculcating in us the attitude to win. 

Defending we do with 11 players and attacking we do with 11 players. Each and every one has a role and they are aware of it.

When we are attacking and we are in the final quarter of the pitch, then our defenders should not stay close to our D. Rather they have to push up and be in a position so that if we lose possession then we have to immediately regain possession.

If our defenders are far back then that leaves a gap in the midfield and in case opponents get possession then that immediately puts pressure on the goalkeeper. So we have to keep our structure in place with our roles specified and this helps get the best out of the team.

I always divide the game in two parts — possession and non possession — and this depends on the skills as well as our cohesion on the field.

With possession we have to ensure that it results in creating scoring opportunities and even capitalising on them. In non possession we have to work on how well to defend, how do we push the attack back and look at getting the possession back.”

Pictograms of Olympic sports - Field hockey. T...

Pictograms of Olympic sports – Field hockey. This is unofficial sample picture. Images of official Olympic pictograms for 1948 Summer Olympics and all Summer Olympics since 1964 can be found in corresponding Official Reports. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

India skipper Sardar Singh said:

“During our training, we enhanced our fitness levels. The team is confident and looking forward to the tour. We have around 35 international games before Rio Olympics and we want to make the most of them. 

Our first match is against France and they have been playing brilliant hockey in the recent years. They will be a challenge for us. We are confident of doing well against France and Spain.”

Oltmans was the man who both approved and dismissed his compatriot Van Ass. The European approach selected was probably first run by him as High Performance Director and then implemented by his countryman.

Team India embark on an European tour where they will play France and Spain in five games.

Continuity in tactics introduced by Oltmans’ predecessor Paul Van Ass will alleviate turbulence and turmoil in the side following the sudden exit and dismissal of Van Ass.

Sardar’s disclosure that fitness issues are being addressed is welcome news. The Total Hockey concept is workable only if the men in blue are able to keep pace with their stronger rivals throughout the game. They should not fade in the final quarter.

Tour results will be closely followed by hockey fans and we can only hope that Indian hockey is moving in the right direction.

Oltmans, however,  struck a somber note about India’s chance at the Rio De Janeiro Olympics.

He said:

“If you ask me can we win [gold] at the Olympics Games, [I would say] it’s a challenge.

The last Olympic Games [London 2012], India finished 12th. The last World Cup [2014], India finished 9th. Numbers, facts, nothing more, nothing less. Do you believe in two years’ time you can win the gold medal? Answer yourself.

But we will strive for it, that’s 100 percent.

We know that we have been close to quite a number of teams and already defeated a number of top teams as well. Champions trophy, we beat Holland. Belgium, we beat them as well. Australia, we beat them quite a number of times in the last year, last time at the Azlan Shah Cup.

Is it possible [to win gold at the Olympics]? Yes, it’s possible. Is it consistently possible? Not yet. But we have one more year to work on that, and I will tell you one thing, we will.”




Rajpal Singh: What he said, really meant and definitely did not

Rajpal Singh Is Victoriously Disgruntled

What he said:

“Hockey players do not have shoes to wear.”

Indian hockey team skipper, Rajpal Singh, is justifiably bitter about the treatment meted out to hockey players and other sportsmen. The proud Sikh was speaking to Gaurav Kanthwal of the Times Of India (TOI)  News Network following the recent fiasco wherein returning triumphant players  were offered a piddly reward of Rs. 25,000 each for bringing home the inaugural Asian Champions Trophy.

In an earlier interview, the Indian captain slammed the revised prize money of Rs. 1.5 lakhs saying:

It was total injustice. It’s not just about 18 to 20 players who go play hockey, it’s about national pride, and they should have at least treated us well. Unless they encourage and motivate players, how can we promote the game? It’s very disappointing. We ought to have been rewarded well… It was wrong and this is not the way to treat the national players. Such incentives will not only demotivate us.

Field hockey is the national sport of India.

Rajpal said:

Jab sponsorship ki baat hoti hain toh players ko pata hi nahi chalta hain ki kya ho raha hain. (When it comes to sponsorship, the players are  clueless as to what’s happening.) Even when we travel abroad the sports authority of India spends and takes care of us. We wear sponsor shirts but, pata nahi kyun. Kuch nahi milta woh shirt pehenkar. (Nothing comes of wearing the sponsor’s shirt). Every player in the team’s upset.

Rajpal added that the Indian hockey skipper is hardly recognised as compared to his cricketing counterpart, MS Dhoni:

Agar hum cricket ko compare kare,BCCI ko hatake aur government ki baat kare toh cricket ko bhi utna hi izzat deti jitna hockey ko. (The government should give equal importance to hockey). But when they won the World Cup, then every state government facilitated (sic) their captain. Main apni baat nahi kah raha hoon, lekin hockey team ke captain ko kabhi bhi Dhoni ki tarah dekha nahi jaata hain. (I am not referring to myself but no hockey captain is adulated like Dhoni).

What Rajpal really meant:

“Rs, 25,000 can buy no more than two pairs of decent sports shoes. There are no real sponsors.”

“I wish the BCCI were running Indian hockey. They’d monetise everything.”

“We’re playing hockey, not hooky.”

What Rajpal definitely didn’t:

“It kind of reminds me of the glorious Indian past when our predecessors played barefoot.”

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