The Indian women’s hockey team coach Neil Hawgood feels enough time has been spent dissecting the Rio Olympics debacle and his side should now let go of the disappointment to showcase high quality hockey at the Asian Champions Trophy later this month.
Having nurtured the eves for quite some time now, the Australian very well understands what needs to be done to bring up the standard of women’s hockey in India.
“There is no question that these girls are very talented. The girls have fast hands but they need to improve their fitness level. Present day hockey is very demanding and athletic and the girls need to up their speed on the turf. We need to have fast athletes,” Hawgood said in an interaction with PTI.
“The Olympics is a thing of past now and there is no point in thinking about it. What we need to do is learn from our mistakes in Rio and correct them.
“The quality of teams in the Asian Champions Trophy is not that high as compared to the Olympics and the girls need to use their Olympic experience to produce high quality hockey in Singapore,” he added.
The fourth Asian Champions Trophy will be held in Singapore’s world-class Sengkang Hockey Stadium from October 29 to November 6.
Besides India, the other teams in the tournament are Korea, China, Japan and Malaysia.
“The team has been training at SAI, Bhopal over the past three weeks and is looking fresh from a well-deserved break post Rio.”
Sushila Chanu, who captained the Indian eves in their first Olympics in 36 years, has been rested following a knee reconstructive surgery and in her place Vandana Katariya has been named as the skipper for the Asian Champions Trophy.
“Sushila has been given rest to recover from her surgery. She is a senior player and is an integral part of my scheme of things,” Hawgood said.
Asked about disgruntled former skipper Ritu Rani’s axing after being dropped from the Olympics squad and her subsequent retirement from the sport, Hawgood said every player has shelf life.
“Ritu’s axing from the Olympics squad was purely on form. During the national camp before the Olympics, she failed to match the level of other players. She failed to raise her game despite repeated chances,” he said.
Ritu was later named among the 29 probables for the ongoing national camp in Bhopal. But the controversial Rio omission still fresh in her mind, the former skipper refused to join the camp and instead called time on her international career.
“Every player has a shelf life. Every player comes to a point in his or her career when they have to make choices. Ritu has done a lot of good work for Indian women’s hockey since making her debut in 2006 World Cup,” the Australian signed off.