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Janneke Schopman’s shocking revelations: Five key points from the Indian women’s hockey coach’s last interview

Published at :February 25, 2024 at 1:00 PM
Modified at :February 25, 2024 at 1:00 PM
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(Courtesy : Hockey India)

Ajay Gandhar

Janneke Schopman has recently resigned as the Indian women’s hockey team chief coach.

In a shocking turn of events, Janneke Schopman stepped down as the coach of the Indian women’s hockey team. Hockey India, the sport’s governing body in the country, has been accused of mismanagement, and corruption, by several players and officials in the past. Schopman’s resignation has added to the turmoil in Women’s hockey, which is struggling off late.

The former Indian women’s hockey chief had faced a tough time in the past few weeks, dealing with controversies, poor performances, and serious accusations against Hockey India. Schopman made headlines with a sensational interview before quitting her post.

In an explosive interview, she came down hard on Hockey India and claimed that the federation was biased against the women’s hockey team and players. She also accused the federation of providing little support and said she felt disrespected.

The interview came following India’s defeat to the USA in shootout in the Women’s FIH Pro League 2023-24. India finished the home leg (Bhubaneswar and Rourkela) of the FIH Pro League with two wins from seven matches.

Here are five key points to note from her explosive interview

“India extremely difficult as a country for woman”

Schopman claimed she faced a lot of challenges and discrimination as a woman coach in India, where she felt the culture was different from her native Netherlands or the USA, where she had worked before.

“But for me personally, coming from the Netherlands, having worked in the USA, this country is extremely difficult as a woman, coming from a culture where, yeah, you can have an opinion and it’s valued. It’s really hard,” she said in an interview days before her resignation.

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Neglected and often overlooked by Hockey India officials

As a member of Marijne’s coaching team, Schopman helped them achieve a remarkable fourth place at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, narrowly failing to secure a bronze medal. Even after doing a thankless job, she was often overlooked.

“Even when I was the assistant coach some people wouldn’t even look at me or wouldn’t acknowledge me or wouldn’t respond and then you become the chief coach and all of a sudden people are interested in you. I struggled a lot with that,” she said.

Accused Hockey India of favouring the men’s team over the women’s team

Schopman felt Hockey India favored the men’s team over the women’s team, especially after the men’s team failed to qualify for the finals of the World Cup in 2023, which India hosted.

“I just know that when the World Cup didn’t go well for the men’s team, all focus was on them. Since February 2023, all the focus was on the men’s team,” she said.

“I look at the difference at how men’s coaches are treated… between me and the men’s coach, or the girls and the men’s team, just in general. They (the women players) never complain, and they work so hard. I shouldn’t speak for them, so I won’t. I love them. I think they work so hard; they do what I ask, they wanna learn, wanna do new things,” Schopman said.

Indian women’s hockey has bright future if supported well

Janneke Schopman believes that India has a lot of potential to become a global force, but only if the Federation backs her vision and listens to her feedback.

“For me, what’s really important is that ‘can I do the job myself’ but also, do I get the support that I need? Like I said, the girls are amazing. If the support is really there for them, then I do think the Indian women’s team has a bright future.”

Her Inputs not taken seriously

Schopman felt that women’s hockey was not taken seriously in India and that it did not get the attention or the respect that it deserved.

“If you asked my family, I should have left after a year. In hindsight, I should have left after the Commonwealth Games because it was too hard for me to manage,” she said.

she said: “The fact that I feel – I don’t even know if it’s true – that I am not taken seriously.”

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