Roelant Oltmans, currently head coach for Delhi Wizards for the World Series Hockey tournament, is convinced India has a future in world hockey; and it is important hockey stays alive in India.
“Of course hockey has a future in India. I am convinced. India is aiming to get back to the top and I know it has the physical, mental and tactical ability to achieve that goal.
“India has a rich hockey history and the fact that such a huge number of people watch the game all over the country is a big plus.
“The more they watch, the more they get attracted and for that obviously India has to do well in the big league,” said Oltsman here on Monday.
On the upcoming professional league, he said, “To have a league like WSH will allow the youngsters to compete with players from different background and potential.
“They can always talk about various aspects of the game and learn from the big players in the league,” observed Oltsman.
Oltsman is a celebrated coach, having guided The Netherlands to Olympic gold in 1996, World Cup in 1998 and two Champions Trophy titles. He was also the women's coach when the Netherlands won the World Cup in 1990.
The Dutch coach admitted speed was crucial in modern hockey but so was the skills factor. There was room for robust hockey and space for skills too.
“You may pass, trap and control with pace but dodging and dribbling has its strong points. You may pass powerfully but then if you dribble a lot you can lose possession. So, you have to strike a balance.”
Oltsman was not unduly perturbed with hockey not being able to attract a large audience. “It is not a concern but then hockey has to compete with some very popular games.
“Having results like 9-1, 15-1, 14-0 won't help. You can see at the Olympic qualifiers. This is not what the spectators like to see.
“You have to have tight games for hockey to attract people. In my country, hockey is given lot of space in print, television and radio. One has to market the game to the masses.”
Development programme was the most vital factor for a team to do well at the highest level. “Innovations (different coloured turf and balls) will make the game more television friendly but you have to get more youngsters to play hockey. That is critical to the game's future in India.”