CHENNAI: Of Late, there has been intense speculation on Indian hockey team’s head coach Roelant Oltmans’ exit. Several theories have been doing the rounds because of below-par performances in 2017 so far but the head coach did smell triumphs early on.
Apparently, Hockey India’s (HI) High Performance Director David John, at times, was quite critical about the Dutchman’s results. This was exacerbated by his over-reliance on Sardar Singh, something the HI officials did not miss. The hockey federation even has begun a three-day performance assessment programme in Delhi. They have been speaking to players, coaches, officials and Olympians to see where India lagged and where it excelled. The exercise, however, will be keenly followed not because of players’ assessment but because Oltmans is going to be a person of interest in these discussions.
Getting rid of Oltmans so close to World Hockey League Final in Bhubaneswar and Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast next year may not be ideal. HI also needs to convince Sports Ministry who pays his salary. Without their consent, his exit may be difficult. If officials in the Sports Ministry are to be believed, the body will take everything into consideration before taking a final decision.
“They are reviewing his performance and they will submit the report to us,” said an official. “Only after that can we decide.” According to the ministry it has to be best decision for the country. “We have to factor in everything before coming to a conclusion. Whatever has appeared in the media is just speculation.” Hockey, after all, has not plunged into an existential crisis yet.
The ministry is taking the failure of the wrestling team at the World Championships seriously. It is not amused by its performance. It felt there needs to be a serious overhaul of the system for success. Sacking foreign coaches too has been an issue. “It was not the Sports Authority of India who sacked the officials, it was recommended by the federation who felt they had outlived their utility,” said an official. Some of the wrestlers were very critical of their training and lack of foreign coaches. However, the way the wrestlers prepared, it seemed the federation bungled their pre-tournament exposure trip in France where the wrestlers were forced to practice with 14-15-year-old grapplers. It seemed the federation is yet to wake up from the Narsingh Yadav fiasco last year.
If hockey has not plunged into an existential crisis, the newly-elected office-bearers of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) already has. The election that was held in Delhi on August 27 was without an observer from the Sports Ministry. So as far as election is concerned, they are unaware of any such development. When it comes to recognition, it’s the BFI as of now. According to the ministry, which is the legitimate body, the international body will decide.