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Women's Hockey Pro League

Indian women's hockey team coach Janneke Schopman calls for players to take accountability, look beyond self interest

Published at :February 5, 2024 at 7:54 PM
Modified at :February 5, 2024 at 7:54 PM
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(Courtesy : Hockey India)

Ankhi Dutta

India will be in action in the Women’s FIH Pro League.

The Indian women’s hockey team, despite their Olympic dreams ending in Ranchi two weeks ago, is already gearing up for the upcoming challenge at the Women’s FIH Pro League starting in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela on Saturday. Coach Janneke Schopman expresses optimism, but the road ahead won’t be easy.

In the opening game, India faces China, a team they have a better record against, including a recent victory at the Asian Champions Trophy. However, China clinched a crucial win at the Asian Games. The challenge intensifies as India confronts Netherlands, Australia, and the USA, all of whom have qualified for Paris.

Against the Dutch and the Aussies, India holds a historically disadvantaged position, with limited victories in their previous encounters. The significance of India’s Tokyo Olympics triumph against Australia becomes evident, considering their historical struggle against these formidable opponents.

The match against the USA carries added weight as they eliminated India from the Olympic Qualifiers, making it a grudge match. Despite the competitive spirit, the reality remains that the Americans have secured the coveted ticket to Paris, making any victories now bitter reminders of missed opportunities for the Indian team.

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Coach Janneke Schopman expressed satisfaction with the team’s performance in Ranchi compared to Hangzhou but acknowledged the need for a reassessment. She stated, “As a team, we are still hurting. It’s been a tough two weeks. We want to show we are a good team. We won’t get the Olympics back; we can only move forward.”

Schopman emphasized the potential of a bright future in women’s hockey for India, envisioning a consistent top-five ranking. However, she highlighted the necessity for improvements at various levels and has discussed these concerns with the team, Hockey India, SAI, and other stakeholders.

Vandana Katariya, returning as the vice-captain, shared her perspective on witnessing the team’s missed opportunity from the sidelines. She mentioned the challenge of recovering from her injury and expressed hope for the team to showcase good hockey in the upcoming matches.

Schopman, without naming specific players, hinted at individuals being under scrutiny. She emphasized the need for players to take accountability and bring their best selves to every game, not necessarily in scoring but in demonstrating a strong commitment to playing for India. Schopman acknowledged the team’s capability in scoring goals and defending well but emphasized the challenge of facing formidable opponents in the upcoming matches.

Regarding the team’s challenges in converting chances, Coach Schopman candidly addressed the issue, pointing out the role of both individual and team mindset. She emphasized the importance of a collective effort in scoring, stating, “If there are players who feel they have to score, that’s unhelpful.” Schopman highlighted the need for the team to score collectively while also executing individual skills.

Expressing concern, she mentioned the requirement for more depth in penalty corner (PC) scoring, acknowledging a gap in comparison to other top-10 teams. Schopman emphasized the need for talent development in this area, noting that having 5-6 drag-flickers is common among top teams, indicating an area where improvement is necessary for the Indian team.

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