The writing was possibly on the wall for some months and the big decision has been finally taken by Hockey India (HI) on Saturday September 2. Roelant Oltmans, the chief coach of the India hockey team has been sacked with immediate effect.
The decision has been well-thought out after a host of Indian hockey bigwigs attended the three-day meeting of the Hockey India High Performance and Development Committee. On an interim basis, David John, who served as the High Performance Director of the team under Oltmans, takes up the head coach role.
India finished sixth in the Hockey World League semi-final in London earlier this year and members of the Indian hockey federation were not happy with the result. Although they mentioned that Oltmans played a stunning role in increasing the fitness levels of the team after Paul van Ass left the job in 2015, the recent performances were not what they were expecting.
The Indian hockey team has a lot of important assignments coming up. India hockey team schedule:
- Hockey Asia Cup in Dhaka from October 11-22.
- Men's Hockey World League Final in Bubaneswar, Odisha from December 1-10
- Commonwealth Games 2018 in Australia in April
- Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta, Indonesia from August-September
- Men's Hockey World Cup 2018 in Bhubaneswar, Odisha from November-December.
- Tokyo Olympics 2020
Full statement from Hockey India over Oltmans' sacking
The outcome of the meeting was based on the objective to not only assess the recent performance of the Men's national team at the World League Semi Final tournament as well as the European Tour but also to take concrete steps towards a winning performance in critical upcoming tournaments including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the World Cup coming up in 2018 and the 2020 Olympic Games.
Key decisions taken included Chief Coach Roelant Oltmans to step down. While Roelant Oltmans' role as Chief Coach in improving the team's overall fitness and cohesiveness has been appreciated, the results are what matter and the performance of the team has not been consistent or up to the desired levels.
Additionally, the Director, High Performance and Hockey India Selection Committee will be required to perform a detailed assessment of all the senior core probables, with those that have reached their peak performance to make way for younger talent. The ray of hope shown via noteworthy performance of a much younger team at the recently concluded Europe Tour proves that it is time to recalibrate.
High Performance Director, David John in the interim will take charge till a suitable replacement is found for a smooth transition of the Indian Men's team.
Mr. Harbinder Singh, Chairman of the Hockey India Selection Committee said, "The Committee was convened since we are collectively not satisfied with the Indian Men's Hockey team's performance in 2016 and 2017 and feel that wins in 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. 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. The Committee unanimously agreed that immediate action was required to be taken and while change may not always be comfortable, it is essential if we want to position ourselves as a serious global contender for the upcoming critical tournaments in 2018 including the Asian Games & World Cup and 2020 Olympic Games."