Indian hockey is going through a strange phase right now. Just when you feel like the team is finally finding its feet at the international level, it is hit by a storm. Something similar happened on Saturday afternoon when chief coach Roelant Oltmans was removed from his post. Oltmans who was the 23rd coach to be shown the door in as many years had spent four years in India. “If you come to India as a foreign coach, there is one thing for sure – before you finish your contract, you will be fired,” the frustrated Dutchman said while responding to the news of his sacking, as per The Indian Express. “I was not expecting such a decision but the Hockey India took the decision to have a different direction and I welcome it. I just wish the team best of luck and hope it continues its progress,” he added.
He is also the fourth foreigner in last four years to be removed from the post. India had employed six foreign coaches before this but all of these were removed. In fact, three coaches – Australians Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh, and Holland’s Paul van Ass – were all shown the door during Oltmans’ term as the high-performance director. David John, primarily a fitness coach will take over as the chief coach till the new head coach is appointed.
Oltman faced the heat after India’s poor performance in at the Hockey World League. The team finished sixth out of 10 teams in the tournament but the defeats to minnows Malaysia and Canada dented the confidence Hockey India had in him. “Our performances were 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 a new direction by getting a new coach,” Hockey India’s high-performance director David John said.
Harbinder Singh, chairman of the Hockey India selection committee said, “The Committee was convened since we are collectively not satisfied with the Indian Men’s Hockey team’s performance in 2016 and 2017 and feel that wins in Asia can’t be a benchmark for success any more.”