Roelant Oltmans has been sacked as the head coach of the Indian hockey team. The decision to end Oltman’s contract came at the back of a three-day Hockey India conclave that took some hard decisions following the nation team’s poor showing in the last two years.
Oltmans, who was initially appointed as a High Performance manager in 2013, became the head coach after Dutchman Paul Van Ass left controversially in 2015.
The Indian hockey federation thus maintained its record of firing international coaches intermittently. It started with Australian legend Ric Charlesworth and the list includes Spaniard Jose Brasa and Australians Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh.
The decision to sack Roelant Oltmans was taken by Hockey India on Saturday. Current High Performance Director David John was take over as the interim coach. India will be hosting the final of the FIH Hockey World League in December this year in Odisha. India will also host the World Cup in 2018.
Harbinder Singh, the chairman of Hockey India’s selection committee, said the decision to sack Oltmans was taken after a review of India’s performance in 2016-17. India’s next major international assignment will be the Asia Cup in Bangladesh from October 11-22.
Singh said India’s performance in the Hockey World League semifinal in London in June was disappointing. India finished sixth in the tournament after losing 3-2 to a resilient Canadian side. The win enabled Canada to book a World cup ticket.
“To make results a reality, we need to make hard decisions for the greater good of the future of hockey in India. The current format of coaching was not showing results beyond a certain level,” said Harbinder Singh at the end of a high-profile meeting in Delhi where several top Indian players, including Khel Ratna Sardar Singh, PR Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh took part.
After the Hockey World League semifinal performance, India tasted some success in the recent tour of Europe where several junior players were given a break. The young team, led by Manpreet Singh, defeated the Netherlands 4-3 last month.
Oltman’s sporadic success with the senior team no more impressed the Hockey India bosses.
“Asia can’t be a benchmark for success any more. We need to show results beyond intent in key international tournaments where the sporadic success over the last two years is more incidental than deliberate,” said Harbinder.