'Women need more exposure'

'Women need more exposure'

'Women need more exposure'

Seldom does one find the spotlight on the Indian women's hockey team. For long, the eves have toiled and struggled, under the shadow of their more illustrious male counterparts. The Hockey India High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans, however, believes the current lot to be skillful and talented and backs them to even make the cut for the 2016 Olympics.

For that, finishing in the top four of the World Hockey League is of great importance to this Indian side. The round two of the event, an eight-team affair, will begin here from Saturday with India being the highest ranked team at 13 among Poland, Ghana, Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan and Singapore.

Their recent trip to Spain has been a fruitful one where the Indian girls beat Spain and World No 7  Germany. Enthused, they are eagerly working on their loopholes under the sharp eyes of Dutch veteran Oltmans before the new coach Anthony Thornton takes over.

“We are the favourites going by the rankings. Poland, Russia and Malaysia should be playing the semifinals along with us,” Oltmans told Deccan Herald.

“There are, however, always areas where you can improve. Goal-scoring and the positioning in the opposition D is part of the details we are looking to improve on. Also I think we can go faster forward. They need to understand that if they get to the right position, they can get lots of opportunities in a game. At the same time, they have to focus on controlled defence, meaning when we are attacking we should not give any space to the opponent for turnovers.”

While Oltmans, as an interim coach, has not tinkered with their style, he strongly believes these girls need to be given more matches and exposure trips abroad. “Couple of players in this team I rate among the best 20 players in the world and I really mean that,” he said.

“It’s a very young team, still less in experience because they don’t play too many matches. That’s why after Asian Games we went to Italy for a Test series, and then to Spain for couple of matches because we wanted them to have more experience. Last year we finished last in the Champions Challenge 1 and it was because of the fact that half the year they did not have any tournament to play at all. That’s not correct with because these girls deserve to get the right competition. I am believe  they have a chance to qualify for the Olympics. This year they have beaten the No 7 and No 8 teams in the world.”

Jaspreet Kaur injured
The team, though, is hit by finger injury to their defender and dragflicker Jaspreet Kaur. “She was hit on the finger on Monday. There is a small fracture. Tomorrow we have to decide whether we can play her or not. Jaspreet is an important player for us but we will not risk the health of any player.”
DH News Service

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