NEW DELHI: India women's hockey team head coach Sjoerd Marijne has said India will remain in his heart forever as the Dutch master tactician leaves the team on an all-time high. The Indian women's hockey team went down fighting against Great Britain 3-4 in the bronze medal match at Tokyo Olympics. With that loss, the team finished fourth, but it was a lion-hearted performance from the girls.
"Yeah, I think the girls did great. It's the first time in 41 years that we made it to the semis. And if you compare it to Olympics in Rio it's a big difference. The conditioning side and mental side, they made a huge step. They took ownership and responsibility, so a lot of good things happened and it's really great as a coach that you see it in a tournament and it leads to result," Sjoerd Marijne told ANI.
"We didn't win bronze and I have already said it but we won something bigger. If I see messages on my social media or get a mail, how proud they are and the girls achieved that which is something amazing."
Talking about the famous victory against Australia in the quarter-finals, the coach said: "We did really well against Australia. They had the ball more than us but that's not the problem. The problem with the other matches we didn't win was that we had only one PC."
Marijne also backed Rani Rampal for supporting fellow teammate Vandana Katariya. Vandana Katariya's family was subjected to casteist slurs after the team's loss against Argentina in the semi-final. He said, "First, we didn't watch social media. But the way captain Rani Rampal reacted that says everything and I think that's leadership. We all work for one goal and I think Rani did well."
Throwing some light on his retirement announcement, he said: "If you read my website, I already announced on 7th of September 2020 [retirement]. This was always a plan because I just wanted to come back to my family. I am feeling overwhelmed with all the reactions. Of course it's nice that people sending the message 'please stay' but there is also something like family. My wife and children haven't seen me so much for the last four and a half years and that's the only reason. I feel like am leaving the team in a better way than I came and that makes me proud. I think for me that's a perfect moment and in future, you don't know what will happen. I will keep following both Indian teams cause I am also proud of the men's team. India is now in my heart."
"I think hockey is back in India. People are proud. There is nothing bigger than making people proud and that's what I said to the girls. Our big goal was never to win a medal. The big goal was inspiring women and making the position for women better. We created a legacy. Now more people will follow hockey, more girls and boys -- so the talent will be bigger."
Speaking on his fun chat with Bollywood actor Shahrukh Khan and potential Chak De India part 2, Sjoerd said, "Yeah, it was a joke between us and yeah it was nice. It would be nice that Chak de India 2 will come but it's not upto me."
"I personally wrote a book and I almost finished and the last chapter is Olympics about this four and half year, what happens with team and I want to show people what really happens. What struggles girls had and what struggles I had and everyone can take learning from that."