A familiar face in Oltmans' team

Hockey

A familiar face in Oltmans' team

At the end of 2016, when Roger van Gent, the analytical coach of the Indian hockey team, turned down a contract extension, head coach Roelant Oltmans was left in a spot of bother.

The Dutchman was Oltmans’ go-to man. Be it breaking down the opponents or chalking out a plan to work around an air-tight defence, van Gent had an answer to everything hockey. “I want someone who understands me and my style of working,” Oltmans had said in December.

So, when back home for a short vacation, Oltmans was quick to get in touch with Hans Streeder, an old friend, and set the ball rolling. “We’ve worked together in the past (in 2004) with the Dutch national team. And then at UP Wizards for three years. So it was an easy choice,” said Streeder, when asked how his move to India came about. “Roelant and I had coffee, he told me about the job. My wife spoke to his wife and him and said okay.”

The camaraderie between the two can be judged from the mere fact that every time Streeder answers a question, Oltmans has a funny one-liner to add. “He can’t say no to the lady!” Oltmans chuckled.

When van Gent was in charge a year ago, he was actively involved in the side’s training. Be it designing the sessions and ensuring the on-field drills are done to perfection, and Streeder stated it would be no different now.  “It’s the same. I organise the sessions. I make the drills and tell Roelant what I feel. Like yesterday, I said let us do defending exercises and prefer to have one against two defenders. On the pitch I’m in charge,” he explained.

The Dutchman has been with the Indian side for three weeks now. So, what has been his first impression? “They’re skillful, but are not used to  training in organised sessions,” he said.

“I mean, after you finish one drill, they’re not used to going to the next set. They just want to play. We have to yell out and tell them to complete every drill. Every drill involves a lot of ball touches and has a tactical component in it, and sometimes they don’t get it.”

Does this mean the side lags on the tactical front? “No, it’s just that they’ re not used to my style and the drills..,” he starts to clarify. Oltmans then butts in. “I think the team is over-excited. For example, whenever someone scores a goal, they lose focus and that’s when you’re vulnerable. The boys need to understand that. When we score a goal, we shouldn’t lose focus and when we concede the next 2-3 minutes is best time to hit back. That’s something they’ve to learn.”

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