BENGALURU: India’s hockey coach Roelant Oltmans is happy, for now. The team has been training in ideal ground and weather conditions at the SAI South Centre. That keeps worries away for the free-speaking Oltmans. In a chat with Express, the Dutchman spoke of the team’s preparations for the series against Australia, World Hockey League, Rio 2016 and more.
On the team’s preparations
We’ve been training on a good surface, in fine weather conditions. Preparations are right on track. I’m told a better surface similar to what we’ll have in Rio, will be ready in two months.
On the team’s progress
The boys have been together for a while and are showing progress. The Test series with Australia will help us evaluate strengths and weaknesses before the Hockey World League finals.
On mood in the camp
We’re excited and there’s positivity. That gives us confidence. We’re confident of playing competitive hockey and hope to produce the best result in the league against formidable sides.
On the gap between India and top nations
If you look at scores, you may say there’s a gap. But in terms of skill, tactics we can match them. But where they score over us is their ability to sustain it over longer spells. We should surely be able to give it back to them.
On the main focus of the camp
We need to strengthen defensive strategies. We’ve been working on that with special drills and the boys have shown improvement. In today’s hockey, it’s defence which has to soak up a lot of pressure.
On his coaching philosophy
I would like my team to score more and more goals. But then, you also have to look at the opposition and plan. More importantly, I must have the talent to implement my philosophy. I may have one, but if they can’t deliver then what’s the point.
On the need for two goalkeepers
Going with one goalkeeper is always risky mainly due to injury concerns. If that doesn’t happen, then it would probably be okay. But as I said, it’s defence which forms the backbone of the team and if it functions well, pressure on the goalkeeper is always less.