'New hockey coach's tenure will be till 2016 Olympics'

The renowned Roelant Oltmans of the Netherlands, who coached the Dutch team to the gold in the 1996 Olympics; Dutchman Jacques Brinkman, two-time Olympic gold medal winner in 1996 and 2000; and former Australian player and club coach Michael Nobbs, made comprehensive presentations on their vision for Indian hockey.

"All the three candidates presented their cases and we had a healthy discussion. We have zeroed in on one coach and we have recommended the name to the sports ministry," Sports Authority of India (SAI) director general Desh Deepak Verma told reporters.

"It is going to be a long term-association till the 2016 Olympics because we have to build our system," said Verma. "The performance of the new coach will be assessed after every tournament and there is also provision for incentives if the team does well," he added.

The authorities are in a tearing hurry to complete the process of selecting the coach as there is very little time left for him to train the team for Olympic qualifiers in Delhi in February 2010.

In a serious bid to create a system that can work, the coach is being given a five-year long run so that he can prepare the players for two Olympics - 2012 and 2016 - and also oversee the development of the game at all levels. "We would want him to start from the ongoing camp in Bangalore, but it depends on his availaibility. We would want him to get on with the job as soon as possible," said Verma adding that the new coach will paid more than Spaniard Jose Brasa, who coached the Indian team till last year's Asian Games.

Oltmans, in his interaction with the media after an hour-long presentation, emphasised on long-term planning and youth development. "I have tried to make the panel understand the necessity of long-term development and also my way of working and insistence on my programme," Oltmans said, adding that he was not ready to accept a short-term offer.

"I understand qualifying for the London Olympics is important. But more important is to  perform with consistency and for that, long-term preparation is required. Participation is not important, winning is important," said the famed coach. "You need a development programme not only for the national team but for the youth and six to eight years to bring change," said Oltmnas, who also coached Netherlands men's team to a World Cup victory in 1998 and the women's team in 1990.

Oltmans, who is currently the High Perforamnace director in the Netherlands Olympic Committee, said his experience of working with the Pakistan team in 2003-04 will a big help. Asked whether he would change India's style of hockey, Oltmans said: "It is not a question of style. What is important is to assess the strengths and weaknessess of the team, analyse them and then work on it. There is lot of potential in Indian hockey and we have to work together."

Nobbs, who was the first to make presentation, said he has learnt Indian style of hockey. "I have learnt hockey in Australia from Indian coaches and I want to give something back to India. The panel was very co-operative. Hopefully we can achieve something good for Indian hockey."

Asked whether India will be able to qualify for the London Olympics, he said: "They would love to qualify for the Olympics. But we should not think of short-term goals. It would be difficult in such a short time. Hope we can take Indian hockey back to the number one position."

Brinkman said there is not much of a gap in international hockey at the top level. "India play attractive hockey. India have good quality players and they have the technical strength. It is a matter of refining a few things. It would be a huge job and they have to really work hard to qualify for the Olympics. But the good thing is that India are the hosts. Who knows, India can be the surprise of the London Olympics," said Brinkman, proudly showing his two gold medals that he carried along with him.

Pargat Singh, who along with four other panel members shortlisted the names, said they are looking at the long-term. "The new coach can bring his own staff, but it should not comprise of too many people because we need to train our own coaches."

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