Roelant Oltmans’s team in the Hockey India League may have been a slow starter but Delhi Waveriders has picked up steam gradually and is now in contention for a spot in the final. The Dutch coach is optimistic that the Indian national team will follow a similar path in the four years he will be with the team.

Named high performance manager for Indian hockey, Oltmans admitted on Thursday that it was not going to be an easy job, but that was exactly why he had taken up the challenge in the first place.

Interestingly, he was one of the contenders for the job of the national coach in 2011.

“That would have been a much easier job. I would have had only one team to look after. Now I have to not only look after four teams — the men’s seniors and juniors, and the women’s seniors and juniors — but also travel across the country and the world to do my job.

“Sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing by agreeing to the offer, now that I realise what a huge responsibility this is,” he said, laughing.

It was easy to talk to Oltmans even though he was not keen on talking about his new role till the HIL ends. “My job starts the day after HIL ends. I will be here for two weeks, and then I go back to Holland to tie up loose ends and return after a week,” said Oltmans, also the current performance manager for Elite Sports with the Dutch Olympic Committee.

Free hand

Oltmans, who is yet to sit down with the coaches of all the national teams and chalk out plans, said he is not concerned with the fact that he will also be working with Michael Nobbs, who had pipped him to the men’s team job. One of the main reasons for Oltmans being rejected then was his insistence on selecting his own support staff. As HPM, that requirement is done away with, and he will also have a free hand in planning.

Hockey India general secretary Narinder Batra had earlier said the delay in appointment of an HPM was because of the unique requirements of the job — understanding the sport and its management while also accepting the conditions in the sub-continent. Oltmans, having led the Dutch national team to Olympic gold and having worked as Pakistan’s coach in the past, fitted the bill.

“Please, I have only one request. Do not expect overnight results. There is still a big gap between India and the top teams like Australia, Holland and Germany. First we have to get closer to them before thinking of beating them,” he said.

“I am here for four years, and it will take at least this much time to get among the top teams. But if I wasn’t hopeful of doing it, I would not have taken up the offer in the first place.”

More In: Hockey | Sport