NEW DELHI (TIP): “They need a bit of polishing,” Roelant Oltmans, interim coach of the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams, said after an extended, high-intensity training session at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium on Tuesday.
The Indian women will take on Ghana in the opening match of the Hockey World League Round 2 starting from March 7.
When asked about the level of the women’s team as compared to the best in the world, Hockey India’s high-performance director Oltmans said his experience of coaching the women’s teams in the past has come in handy.
“I have coached women before in my life. I know there are a lot of physical differences. These girls are very eager to learn. They work hard and try to improve every moment we are on the ground. I see a lot of progress. They are getting better and better. Our aim is to qualify for the Olympic Games,” Oltmans said.
The men’s team qualified for the Rio Olympics after winning gold at the Incheon Asian Games. The women’s team had finished fourth in the 1980 Moscow Olympics, the only time they have played in the Olympic Games.
Talking about the upcoming tournament, Oltmans said: “For this tournament, our aim is to be in top-2 to make sure that the next step can be taken. I will step back then as the coach. Anthony Thornton will be here next week and start his work with the women,” he added.
New Zealand’s Thornton will replace Neil Hawgood as coach of the senior women’s team. Hockey India has roped in men’s physical trainer Matthew Eyles for better preparation of the host team.
“Mathew is working with the women’s team since the men’s team does not have any assignments now and I can see the results. We had a meeting today and in a month’s time the girls will have their own physical trainer,” he said.
Talking highly of the improvement made by the women’s team, Oltmans said the girls are in a good form. “If you look at Asian Games, the girls performed quite well. And at the moment they are better than what they were at the Asian Games. We tested them two days back and compared to the last five tests this was by far the best we have done,” he pointed.
“These girls are very competitive. They have improved throughout the year. They didn’t start well in the Champions Trophy but finished the year on a high with Asian Games,” he said.