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How has been your experience with the Indian men's hockey team since taking over?
It went really well. I enjoyed the energy and they are picking up things really fast. I am not implementing new things because I didn't have much time before this tournament (Asia Cup) and the players have already decided how they want to play.
You had said that you would talk to former coach Roelant Oltmans and would be willing to take forward some of the things he started. Have you had a conversation with him?
I haven't spoken to Roelant yet but I have talked to the players to know how they want to play and that for me is the most important thing.
This is your first assignment as the coach of a national men's team. Is coaching a men's side any different from coaching a women's team?
I have been a coach for 17-18 years. I have coached more men's teams than women's teams. Therefore, I have a lot of experience with men. As to the difference between coaching a men's side and a women's side, of course there are differences. The first difference I observed was that more men speak English compared to women and that for me is really nice as I can have better interaction with them. Another thing I experienced is that there is more discussion with men. They want to give their opinion and I like that because the feedback from the players makes the team better.
Your first challenge as the coach of the Indian team would be the Asia Cup where India are the overwhelming favourites. Does that put extra pressure on you and the team as well?
No, because if you are in the top-6 of the world, you have to try to win every tournament. I think it's good when you have pressure. The way we look at it is that we embrace pressure instead of fearing it.
nSardar Singh is back in the team. Some time ago, captaincy was taken away from him as the coach at that time, Roelant Oltmans felt that he was slowing down the game. So how do you intend to use him?
I have to get to know the team before I make decisions about that. It's not just about Sardar Singh. I am always talking about the whole team and not individual players. Sardar is one of the players and we have to see what works best for the team.
Are you looking at the Asia Cup as the beginning of India's preparations for the hockey world cup next year?
We have long-term goals and short-term goals as well as a dream goal. Our dream is to win at the 2020 Olympics. The long-term goal is to do well in the World Cup next year and the short-term goal is the Asia Cup.
The sacking of Roelant Oltmans came as a big surprise to everyone and so did your appointment as the coach. Was it a big surprise for you as well or did you have inkling about that?
No, I didn't have inkling. I was called when I was with the women's team in Holland and was asked whether I would like to take up this job and my first reaction was yes because it's a big honour to be offered this role.
It has been said that Indian players are naturally good at dribbling but they also tend to hold on to the ball longer than they should. What's your opinion on this issue?
For me, it's not about Indian style or European style but what suits this team and that's what I spoke about with the team. What do they want? What style of play do they like? So, right now, it's too early for me to say something about that. It's the players who have to make the decisions inside the lines and I am there to coach them and help them make the right decisions.
The team for the Asia Cup has a nice balance of youth and experience. Is that the ideal composition of the side?
It's about finding the right balance and not about young and old. It's about having internal competition. The other thing is that juniors cannot be good without good seniors and seniors cannot develop their game without good juniors. So, you have to find the right balance.
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22 Oct 2017 | Staff Reporter | Bhopal
Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will reach Washington DC on October 22. He has been invited by Pt Deendayal Upadhyay Forum, where he will address as a key speaker in the programme organised by the forum...