Hockey fraternity including three former captains on Friday expressed shock over the decision to appoint women’s team coach Sjoerd Marijne as head coach of the Indian men’s side, saying the abrupt move “defies logic”.
Marijne was on Friday named chief coach of the Indian men’s team — a stunning decision given that the Dutchman has no prior experience of handling a senior men’s side.
Marijne replaced legendary Roelant Oltmans, who was sacked after a few ordinary performances in the past few months.
Besides, World Cup-winning junior team coach Harendra Singh was appointed High Performance Specialist coach of the senior women’s team.
But for India’s only World Cup-winning captain Ajit Pal Singh, Marijne’s elevation was a senseless decision.
“In my opinion the appointment defies logic. This man (Marijne) has never coached a senior men’s team. He hardly knows the players,” Ajit Pal told PTI.
“Harendra has been given the women’s team charge but he too has never been involved with the women’s team. The Olympic cycle has already started and they will now take time to settle down,” he said.
Ajit Pal feels Oltmans sacking was “ill-timed”.
“Oltmans removal was ill-timed and not graceful. He has given a lot to Indian hockey. Under him the team has shown considerable improvement, even though results were not showing to some extent,” said the two-time Olympic bronze medallist.
“I feel what went against Oltmans was the defeats against Malaysia and Canada (both in Hockey World League Semi-Finals in London.”
The decision was shocking for all and sundry as Marijne has no experience of working with a senior men’s side.
With three important tournaments — the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games and the men’s World Cup — at home lined up in 16 months time, this decision has every chance of backfiring.
Marijne, who has played for The Netherlands, guided the Dutch Under-21 women’s side to a World Cup title and the Dutch senior women’s side to a gold at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in 2015.
Between 2011-2014, Marijne was the national head coach for The Netherlands Under-21 men, apart from a short stint with Liaoning Men China.
Terming the move as a step in the backward direction, legendary forward Dhanraj Pillay said Harendra was a better choice for the men’s team.
“It is a step in the backward direction. I can’t make any sense of the decisions taken. Harendra was a strong contender for the job,” Pillay said.
“It is a negative decision. It seems Hockey India only wants to appoint foreign coaches.”
Another hockey stalwart Zafar Iqbal, a member of India’s last of the eight Olympic gold medal winning squad, too was surprised by the decision.
“It may be a good decision or may not be. There may be some reason behind the decisions. Oltmans was from Netherlands and Marijne too is a Dutchman and that might have went in his favour. I ”I feel Hockey India did not want to disturb the Oltmans style of play and that might be the reason behind appointing Marijne,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal, however, said Hockey India could have avoided the drama surrounding the coach’s appointment.
“I am upset with the tamasha (drama) which HI has created by advertising for the post and later withdrawing it. Many interested candidates might feel offended,” he said.