Oltmans removed as India hockey team coach

Hockey India on Saturday decided to sack the national men’s team chief coach Roelant Oltmans due to the side’s below-par performance in the last 18 months.

High Performance Director David John in the interim will take charge till a suitable replacement is found for a smooth transition, according to a release from HI.

The decision was taken during the three-day meeting of the Hockey India High Performance and Development Committee. The meeting, which ended on Saturday, was attended by over 24 members, including HI selection committee chairman Harbinder Singh and his colleagues B.P Govinda, V. Baskaran, Thoiba Singh, Dr. A.B. Subbaiah and Dr. R.P Singh.

Current players Joydeep Kaur, Sardar Singh, P.R Sreejesh, Manpreet Singh were also present alongside coaches Oltmans, Jugraj Singh, Arjun Halappa, Hans Streeder, Scott Conway, David John and Elena Norman.

HI officials Mariamma Koshy, Md. Mushtaque Ahmad Rajinder Singh, Tapan Das, Bhola Nath Singh, Firoz Ansari and Gyanendro Ningombam also attended. Inputs were incorporated from all committee members to emerge with focus areas and the way forward for the Indian team.

“The outcome of the meeting was the basis to not only assess the recent performance of the men’s national team at the Hockey World League (HWL) Semi Final tournament as well as the European Tour but to also take concrete steps towards a winning performance in critical upcoming tournaments including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the World Cup coming up in 2018 and the 2020 Olympic Games,” the statement said.

India finished sixth in the HWL Semi-Final in London. Prior to that they had finished third in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup under the coaching of Oltmans, the 63-year-old Dutch tactician.

In the 2016 Rio Olympics, they had finished eighth. They had won the Asian Champions Trophy title in 2016.

“While Roelant Oltmans role as chief Coach in improving the teams’ overall fitness and cohesiveness has been appreciated, the results are what matter and the performance of the team has not been consistent or up to the desired levels,” the statement added.

HI also announced that John and the HI Selection Committee will be required to perform a detailed assessment of all the senior core probables, with those that have reached their peak performance to make way for younger talent.

“The ray of hope shown via noteworthy performance of a much younger team at the recently concluded Europe Tour proves that it is time to recalibrate,” HI said in the statement.

Harbinder said, “The Committee was convened since we are collectively not satisfied with the Indian men’s team’s performance in 2016 and 2017 and feel that wins in Asia can’t be a benchmark for success any more.

“We need to show results beyond intent in key international tournaments where the sporadic success over the last two years is more incidental than deliberate. To make results a reality, we need to make hard decisions for the greater good of the future of hockey in India,” he added.

“The current format of coaching was not showing results beyond a certain level. The committee unanimously agreed 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.”

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