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Wednesday May 29, 2024

Hockey revival hinges on winning Nations Cup, says Oltmans

By Abdul Mohi Shah
April 25, 2024
National team Head Coach Roelant Oltmans. - PHF
National team Head Coach Roelant Oltmans. - PHF

ISLAMABAD: National team Head Coach Roelant Oltmans lamented missing a golden opportunity of making it to the Paris Olympics, pointing out that now revival of Pakistan hockey largely depends on winning the Nations Challenge Cup starting in Poland from the last week of May.

In a media talk at the Bunda Ground Wednesday evening, Oltmans said Pakistan came close to qualifying for the Paris Olympics but in the end, Pakistan missed a good opportunity of making it to the Olympics and playing in the company of top 12 teams.

“I am sure that had I continued from the junior string to the senior team months before the Olympics, we would have made it to the Olympics. There was a good chance of making it to the Olympics following the juniors’ splendid performance in the Junior World Cup where the team finished among the top teams.

“For the first time in many years we have made it to the quarter-finals of the Junior World Cup and could have made it to the Olympics had we continued training the same. Now the biggest challenge we are facing is the Nations Cup. There we have to perform well and go on to win the event in order to qualify for the FIH Pro League. Once we enter the Pro League, revival is imminent.”

The Dutch national pointed out flaws in the Pakistan domestic coaching structure. “The basic problem in Pakistan’s coaching structure is the lack of education in coaches. You are a player one day, the next day you get up and start a coaching job. I learnt the art of coaching through education for no less than six years, coached many teams, raising my standard to an international level. In Pakistan every former player is a coach without getting the basic coaching education.”

On a question about Pakistan chances in the Azlan Shah Cup, Oltmans said the tournament is more an exhibition one. “Still I believe that we can make it to the top three teams depending on the early resolution of complications involved domestically. All depends on fielding a strong unit for the event.” He praised the technical abilities of most of the Pakistan players.

“There are a few players who could be rated as good as any top hockey player in the world. What they require is game’s understanding and more international experience and exposure. For the improvement in domestic hockey, there is a need to introduce qualified coaches to train up and coming players.”

Oltmans admitted that training and coaching in bits and pieces would never help develop a solid team. “I have been in and out of the Pakistan coaching assignment for years now. Consistent approach and coaching is required to build a solid team and backup squad for international commitments.”