In a press release on Saturday, Hockey India said that one of the key decisions taken at the three-day meeting of its High Performance and Development Committee in New Delhi was to ask “Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans to step down.”
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Oltmans’ ouster comes 10 months after he was given an extension until the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The Dutchman’s exit is hardly a surprise but it was widely believed that he would stay on until the Asia Cup in Dhaka next month. Now, with the committee stating that performance in Asia is no yardstick to measure the success of Indian hockey, Oltmans found himself out of favour.
Oltmans’ joins a long list of foreign coaches – five in the last seven years – to be shown the door. His predecessors who bit the dust were Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs, Terry Walsh and Paul Van Ass. Prior to that, in 2008, Australian Ric Charlesworth, Indian hockey’s technical director then, was unceremoniously dumped.
The committee unanimously decided that the results were not showing. We have the ability and talent to be among the top teams but have lost to teams like Canada and Malaysia in recent times. That’s why the call (on Oltmans) was taken
Interestingly, Oltmans, who joined the national set-up in 2013, took over as the chief coach following the sacking of van Ass in 2015 due to differences with the then Hockey India chief Narinder Batra.
The three-day conclave, which ended on Friday, included a meeting of Oltmans with the committee, Hockey India officials and Batra. The last meeting sealed the 63-yearold’s fate.
Oltmans probably didn’t see the end coming so soon as he returned to the team’s training base at the SAI, South Centre here late on Friday night and was a part of the training session on Saturday morning.
On the thought behind the move, Harbinder Singh, the chairman of the selection committee stated, “To make results a reality, we need to make hard decisions for the greater good of the future of Hockey in India. The current format of coaching was not showing results beyond a certain level. The committee unanimously agreement that immediate action was required to be taken and while change may not always be comfortable it is essential if we want to position ourselves as a serious global contender for the upcoming critical tournaments in 2018 including the Asian Games & World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games.”
After finishing eighth at the Rio Olympics, the India team, which has shown marked improvement in fitness but not in performance in recent times, lost to teams ranked much below them at the Sultan Azlan Shah and the World Hockey World League semifinals in London. At Azlan Shah, India who are currently ranked sixth, were beaten by Malaysia (ranked 11th) who along with Canada (12th) defeated the side again in London.
Searching for answers
When the 24-member committee – which included current team players like PR Sreejesh, Sardar Singh and Manpreet Singh besides Oltmans himself – questioned the Dutch coach earlier this week, his answers to some of the posers left it unhappy.
“The committee was not satisfied with Oltmans. We felt the answers he gave for questions posed to him were far from satisfactory. He failed to convince us with his answers on the team’s performance especially to lower ranked teams like Malaysia and Canada,” Olympian BP Govinda, who is also a member of the selection committee, told TOI.
FIVE COACHES IN SEVEN YEARS
Jose Brasa (May ’09-Dec’10): The Spaniard led India to a Commonwealth Games silver in New Delhi and Asian Games bronze in Guangzhou. India’s failure to win gold at the Asiad coupled with his run-ins with the federation and Sports Authority of India led to his ouster.
Michael Nobbs (June’11-July’13): The Australian brought overseas scientific experts, including David John, as support staff. Nobbs, who said he couldn’t handle the pressure of heading Indian hockey, was eased out.
Terry Walsh (Oct’13-Oct’14): The former Aussie great was instrumental in leading India to a gold at the Incheon Asiad in 2014, which helped the country to seal a berth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He resigned citing ‘pay dispute’ and ‘difficulty adjusting to the decision-making style of the sporting bureaucracy in India.’
Paul van Ass (Feb-July 2015): The Dutchman was a great motivator and was known to be knowledgeable and outspoken. He had a public spat with Hockey India chief Narinder Batra. He was sacked after he failed to report for the ensuing camp at Shilaroo, HP.
Roelant Oltmans (July ’15-Sept ’17): Oltmans, 63, joined the Indian hockey fold in January 2013, worked briefly as coach of the senior team after Nobbs quit before paving the way for Terry Walsh. He was Indian hockey’s High Performance Director but HI was forced to redesignate him as chief coach again after van Ass’ ouster. While his experience in the subcontinent stood him in good stead, the inconsistent performance of the team did him in.
Source : timesofindia