Hockey India names Harendra as men's coach

Hockey India names Harendra as men's coach

Harendra Singh (left) and Sjoerd Marjine

The chaos surrounding Indian hockey refuses to die. Following a no-medal show at the Commonwealth Games, the federation has decided to make another switch of coaches. This time Harendra Singh, who was coaching the women’s team, has been appointed the men’s coach. And Sjoerd Marijne, who was appointed the men’s coach a few months ago, returns to coach the women’s side.

It had struck as rather odd when in September Marijne was announced as the successor to Roelant Oltmans who Hockey India felt was not delivering the results. Marijne, till then, had never coached a men’s team and Harendra had never been with a women’s team! At that time, the applicants for the coach’s role in the middle of an Olympic cycle were not up to the mark and it was collectively felt the men’s team would benefit from a foreign coach, who had given good results with the women’s team. Now, it’s been less than eight months and Hockey India has had another change of heart.

With the Champions Trophy (June-July) and the Asian Games (August-September), the qualifying event for 2020 Tokyo Games, both drawing near, it will now be a race against time. Meanwhile, both Marijne and Harendra have accepted their new roles. It is believed Sports Authority of India is already in talks with them over their salaries. .

The credentials of Harendra, under whom the women’s team finished fourth at Gold Coast, have never been under doubt. While former players have hailed his appointment, they also questioned why this decision was not taken in September itself? “Sometimes, we learn though harsh results may be,” a former hockey player remarked.

And what about the women’s team? “Look, the men’s team are the priority currently. Also, Marijne has given good results with women’s team,” he said.

The sacking of Marijne was imminent. More so, it was believed the players, too, were not happy with his style after their fifth place finish in Commonwealth Games. The Dutchman, meanwhile, defended his playing style on his website. “The coaching style I choose was players-driven. The reason is that the players learn to take responsibility for their actions because all the decisions which are taken they were involved and that means they were supporting the plan,” Marijne, who is still awaiting his visa, wrote.

“The other reason is that when you involve players in the thinking process they will get more tactical awareness and learn faster. This is scientifically proven because they have to learn to take decisions inside the pitch. It means that I prepare the matches and after this I share with the leaders so they can explain in Hindi to the rest of the team. I had a lot of confidence that this was the way of working we could win the Asian Games and the World Cup”

He also said the team showed “good statistics” under him. “We won the Asian Cup with dominant hockey, in the World League we have shown we can beat world class teams and with our New Zealand tour we made another step in our process to win the Asian Games and World Cup. Unfortunately, in CWG we didn’t perform the way we expected but we had good statistics.”

Harendra, meanwhile, said, “It is an honour for me to now manage the Indian men’s hockey team. It has been a very satisfying journey with the Indian women’s hockey team,” he said.