Stalwarts Criticise Hockey India’s Choice of New Men’s Coach

India’s new men’s hockey coach has never coached a men’s team before!

2 min read
The Indian men’s hockey team pose for a team picture before the tour of Belgium and Netherlands in 2017.

The hockey fraternity, including three former captains, expressed their 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 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. He 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.

For India's only World Cup-winning captain Ajit Pal Singh, Marijne's elevation is 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. 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.
Ajit Pal Singh

Ajit Pal also said he felt Oltman’s 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. I feel what went against Oltmans was the defeats against Malaysia and Canada (both in Hockey World League Semi-Finals in London.
Ajit Pal Singh

With three important tournaments – the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games and the men's World Cup – 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’s team, apart from a short stint with Liaoning Men China.

Terming the move as a step in the wrong 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. It is a negative decision. It seems Hockey India only wants to appoint foreign coaches.
Dhanraj Pillay

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 decision. Oltmans was from the Netherlands and Marijne too is a Dutchman and that might have gone in his favour. I feel Hockey India did not want to disturb Oltmans style of play and that might be the reason behind appointing Marijne.
Zafar Iqbal

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.
Zafar Iqbal

(#TalkingStalking: Have you ever been stalked? Share your experience with The Quint and inspire others to shatter the silence surrounding stalking. Send your stories to or WhatsApp @ +919999008335.)

(The Quint is available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!