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High performance director David John was named interim coach following the pink slip issued to Roelant Oltmans. Here he lists out the reasons why it was time for Dutchman to go.
How did you arrive at this decision?
It was an extensive process. Senior players gave their presentation along with the coaching staff. Roelant was asked to make two presentations. Discussions were held with 14 committee members and unanimous decision was made to replace Roelant and look for another coach to take us forward till 2020 Olympic Games.
Why was he sacked?
The questions (over Roelant) revolved around last 12 months, going back to the Olympic Games and performances. I wasn’t present here during that time. We also analyzed our performances at Azlan Shah, the three-nations after that and World League semifinals where we finished sixth out of 10. We wanted to know why we had failed against countries ranked lower to us. We lost twice to Malaysia this year. We drew with Canada at the Olympic Games and lost to them at World League.
The players over last 12 months have plateaued. The senior group of players has been together for the last 4-5 years. Their performances should be maturing and improving but our performances don’t reflect that. We still lose to teams we should be beating. Our performances in competitions are inconsistent. We are good one day and lose the next.
Can the coach alone be held responsible for inconsistent performances?
Well, the same 13-15 players were always selected for the tours after the Olympics. Despite that, our performances were still inconsistent. Unfortunately, we either need to change the whole playing group, or as often is the case, the chief coach is the one who suffers. In this case, we look for new direction by getting a new coach.
Does changing coaches so frequently send the right signal?
Not all the time, not often. A different coach can bring different playing style and that may confuse the players initially. Because of that, the performances aren’t consistent. I am aware that we have had four coaches in five years and I am sure that can upset the group. But rest of the staff has been stable. Video analyst, physios have stayed the same more or less. But yes, I agree there’ve been frequent changes and I would like that to stop and get more consistency with senior coach.
You came to India as a physio. Now you are the interim coach…
I will continue till we find an international hockey coach. I will use expertise we have in India. I will call experienced players in the team to give inputs in our practice sessions, match preparation and game style. Those players have played 150-200 matches each so they should be able to provide more inputs to me at this moment than I can provide to them. My expertise will be in physical preparation, mental preparation, nutritional and I will look at all those factors while we are searching for new coach who can take this group forward.
Will the new coach be a foreigner?
Not necessarily. We want a coach who can get us results, podium finishes. Most countries have already appointed their coach for this Olympic cycle so let’s see what’s available.