The former coach of the Pakistan hockey team and the performance manager of the Netherlands Olympic Committee, Roelant Oltmans, emphasised that the ambition and passion of a country to win more Olympic medals should be backed by excellent sports policies that would serve as pillars of strength in helping talent grow and blossom into champions in a systematic fashion.
Speaking at the Indo-Dutch sports seminar, planned to coincide with the hockey World Cup, Oltmans stressed the need to have world class performance programme, high performance accommodation, scientific support, income substitution benefits for athletes apart from complete coordination of various agencies to meet the desired results.
He said that the whole challenge was to live up to the increased expectations with the limited funds.
The Ambassador of Netherlands, Bob Hiensch, said that Holland may be 138th in the world in terms of its size and 59th in terms of its population, but was among the top 10 countries with its achievements in various spheres that include human development and excellence in sports.
The Dutch ambassador stressed that the two countries could work together in their pursuit of excellence.
Projecting the Indian scenario, the joint secretary of the Union Sports Ministry, Injeti Srinivas, pointed at the lack of a strong sports culture in the country and also the minimal options available to the youth in terms sports as a career, as the major reasons for the country struggling to excel in games other than cricket.
He was clear that the government could only form policies, and it was up to the various agencies to make sports a healthy affair in the country.
Prof. Arjun Chaudhuri of the Khalsa College said that it was important to fill up the stadiums with students and public at large to trigger a sports revolution, and that mere creation of infrastructure for mega events would not serve the purpose.
Ronald Kramer, the Director of sport and movement in the Netherlands, highlighted the fact that his country could not afford to overlook talent as it did not have the big numbers to play with like India. He was of the view that sports facilities should be consumer friendly and profitable, apart from there being a strong private and public sector partnership for the development of sports.
The high performance centres apart from national training centres, that helped the best athletes train in one place under world class guidance and facilities, was viewed as a key to the success of the Dutch in the world of sports.
The Dutch sportspersons were systematically being groomed, starting from the time when they play for fun, then reach the state of learning to train, onwards to being trained to compete and eventually training to win.
There were others like Dr. Christos Spitas who spoke on equipment and materials, Prof. A. Schols who delved on the topic of sports health and nutrition and Rein Jansma discussing sports facilities, making the seminar a comprehensive and worthwhile exercise.
Prof. Theo Groothuizen, Counselor for science and technology in the Embassy of the Netehrlands, was the key coordinator of the seminar. He viewed the Dutch hockey team as a classic example of the small country asserting itself in the world of sports.
However, as the Dutch Ambassador mentioned, the key to the Dutch success in sports could basically be owing to the fact that the country has the happiest children in the world who grow up in a healthy society, playing sports for fun and ending up as world class professionals, winning medals in the summer and winter Olympics.