Dutchman Sjoerd to be next Indian women’s coach

DHARAMSALA: With the Indian men’s hockey team making its mark on the world scene, Hockey India is now concentrating on developing the women’s team as well and raising its profile.

The first step towards it has been taken with the federation zeroing in on former Dutch women’s National coach, Marijne Sjoerd, to lead the National team for the next four years.

With the exit of Australian Neil Hawgood as coach, the federation had invited applications for the job. The last date for the same was January 8, after which the applicants were short-listed, and Sjoerd finalised.

While an official announcement is yet to be made, senior federation officials confirmed the decision. The name was also approved by the Sports Ministry’s committee responsible for the appointment of foreign personnel in a meeting with federation officials a few days ago.

With Sjoerd’s appointment, the various team managements in Indian hockey will have a predominantly orange hue, with High Performance director David John the sole Australian. “The meeting was attended by Hockey India CEO Elena Norman and men’s coach Roelant Oltmans besides High Performance director David John.

Sports Secretary Injeti Srinivas led the Ministry panel and Sjoerd’s name was accepted. Only a formal final approval from the Minister remains,” a federation official confirmed.

The contract will be till Tokyo Olympics 2020 and Sjoerd would be paid approximately the same as Hawgood ($13,000).

Sjoerd led the Dutch Under-21 women’s side to a World Cup title and led the senior women’s side to gold at the Hockey World League semifinals in 2015, before quitting after a difference of opinion with the Dutch federation.

Ministry sources added that Sjoerd would be accompanied by compatriot Eric Vanek as strategy coach and is likely to take charge of the women’s squad latest by mid-March after completion of paperwork and formalities.

The Indian women are currently in Bhopal for a conditioning camp. Hawgood’s contract ran out in November 2016 and was not renewed.

Former Hockey India president Narinder Batra had earlier said the federation’s target was to get the women’s team consistently into the top-8, both in rankings and at the Olympics.

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