A few years ago, when Roelant Oltmans came to India as the high performance director, he was surrounded by Australian coaches. The men’s team chief coach was Michael Nobbs with David John as his assistant, followed by Jason Konrath. Terry Walsh succeeded Nobbs while Neil Hawgood managed the women’s team in two stints with Matthew Tredea as the scientific advisor.
Now, with an Australian – John – as the high performance director, rest of India’s staff has gone Orange.
The three important coaching positions will all be held by Dutchmen. While Oltmans continues to be the chief coach of the men’s team, Hockey India is set to appoint former Holland assistant coach Hans Streeder as his assistant. Marijne Sjoerd, meanwhile, will be the chief coach of the women’s team.
The two additions to the coaching staff are yet to be made official. But Oltmans said Sjeord is likely to take charge of the women’s team later this month while Streeder will join the men’s camp in middle of March.
“It was an open invitation for anyone to apply and these guys did. They were clearly the best candidates and will be a good addition to the coaching staff,” Oltmans told The Indian Express.
In 2015, Streeder was in contention to replace Walsh as the team’s chief coach. Instead, Hockey India appointed his compatriot Paul van Ass. Streeder went on to coach Pinoke, one of the leading Dutch clubs, while simultaneously working as the assistant for the team that took part in the junior World Cup in Lucknow last December.
He will replace strategy coach Roger van Gent, who quit following the junior World Cup owing to family commitments.
Sjoerd, meanwhile, has played an instrumental role in revitalizing the Dutch women’s hockey team. He led them to the junior World Cup title in 2013 and followed it up by guiding the senior women’s team to gold at the Hockey World League semifinals in 2015. He parted ways with them after a fallout with the Dutch federation.
Oltmans, however, said the appointment of Dutch coaches would not mean the men and women’s team would adopt a particular style of play. In the past, Indian teams have swayed from one extreme to another in trying to play the Australian way – quick and aggressive – or the European, which is much more structured and disciplined.
Under Oltmans, though, the men’s team has formed a style of their own and have turned into one of the most dangerous counter-attacking teams in world hockey. “At the moment, it (new coaches) will help because we can change our structure. But we are not trying to adopt a style. We are looking for an Indian structure…that’s what we are aiming for,” he said.
The women’s team, meanwhile, hasn’t taken giant strides although they qualified for the Olympics last year after more than three decades.
Their performance in Rio, though, left a lot to be desired. Sjoerd is expected to arrive in Delhi in a week or two and will join the camp immediately to prepare for the World League Round 2, which begins on April 1 in Vancouver. A high finish there would ensure a berth in the World League semifinals later this year, which will act as the qualifiers for next year’s World Cup. The men’s team, meanwhile, will not have to worry about qualifying for the World Cup as they get in on the virtue of being the hosts. They are likely to begin their camp in mid-March.