India need to groom Indian coaches, says Bovelander

Ranchi: Former Olympic champion and World Cup winner, Floris Jan Bovelander today heaped praise on national hockey coach Roelant Oltmans but said India should soon groom a domestic coach to replace the fellow Dutchman.

"I think (National men's team coach) Roelant Oltmans is doing a great job. In the end, we should not stay (for long).

There should be some Indian coaches who develop as international coaches," he said during CInI Tata Trust grassroots hockey development programme.

He hailed junior team coach Harendra Singh for guiding India to junior Hockey World Cup title last December and said India should now target a medal at the Olympics and World Cup.

"Harendra Singh (who guided India to Junior World Cup title) is the perfect example of understanding the modern way of hockey. He is good and can make India proud. You can be proud when a foreign coach makes the Indian team champion but an Indian coach would be even better," he said.

"Hopefully they will reach semifinals in 2018 (World Cup), they are really close to getting a serious medal. Of course they won the Asian Games and the Champions Trophy.

"But the need to win at the World Cup and the Olympics, That one really counts. Hopefully they will not beat Holland but they will beat the rest. Netherlands and India final would be a great match," he said.

Bovelander further said: "I was really impressed seeing some of the under-21 (World Cup) matches in Lucknow. I was impressed with some Indian players.

"In Europe, we get strict in discipline, in tactics. In India, the right mix will be discipline and chaotic life and unstructured hockey, where you see opportunity and (have a) go (at it). That mix can be the new hockey. Of course, you need some discipline. If you combine that with your opportunism, then India can rule world again," he added.

Giving example of the Belgium model, he said: "It takes a long time. Belgium, who played the Olympic final, took 15 years to set up structured hockey, talent scouting, lay a lot of pitches, hire foreign coaches and they developed.

"It will take 10-15 years. You have had your 10 years of investment and hopefully for you there will be some results, even better results than what we have seen."

Bovelander hailed the arrival of Hockey India League.

"Narinder Batra has really changed the game in India with HIL, that's great benefit for hockey worldwide and also in India. You need icons, you need those heroes. A great boost for India," he said.

"But a lot of work needs to be done at grassroots level.

This is Khunti if you see map of India and point out Khunti, you're doing a great job. There's a lot of positivity about hockey," said the Dutch, who runs an academy back home and now works here following a three year MoU.

He became a key name in the development of hockey in India when the Netherlands signed a partnership of association a couple of years ago.

The Dutchman further stressed on the importance to develop women's hockey on the backdrop of India's historic Olympic qualification in Rio 2016.

"They always talk about men's hockey but there's a great opportunity to become a good women team. It has always lagged behind," said Bovelander, who is in his seventh visit to Khunti, a small distinct headquarter where Tata Trusts are developing a hockey regional development centre.

"If you see boys have shoes, girls don't have; they have sheen pads, girls don't have. Maybe they are tougher than boys."

Praising the Indian women's team for Rio Olympics qualification, Bovelander said: "There's a big opportunity for Indian women team who made it to the Olympics. It's huge to reach there. Of course they may have become the worst team and some Indians look at it that way but the effort that they reached the Olympics was a big achievement.

"That's more cultural thing maybe parents do not allow.

You have to cope this kind of cultural issues. If you're good, you have to make sure you are allowed. Maybe you can represent your state and country and make the family really proud."

Tata Trusts have adopted Khunti, East Singhbhum and West Singhbhum as they will work as a supplyline for the Tata Hockey Academy coming up in Jamshedpur in May this year.

Bovelander says hockey in India can regain its lost glory only if it has a proper youth development programme in place.

"It makes me proud to be here in a small unknown place in Khunti. If we can do this in Khunti, we can do anywhere.

Regional developmental centre is the way forward from there they can go to district, state or wherever," he said.