Paul van Ass, the newly-appointed coach of the Indian men’s hockey team has hardly taken any time to gel with the men in blue. He took over the reins from Terry Walsh just weeks before the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup and did not have much expectations from the 2014 Asian games gold medal-winning team. To his surprise, the Indian men’s hockey team defeated the mighty Australians and put up a reasonably good show in the tournament to win the bronze medal. Paul van Ass also coached his team to victory in the first bilateral series under his tenure. They whitewashed Japan 3-0 in the four-match test series played in Bhubaneshwar. Let us take a look at the new Indian hockey coach’s game-plan going forward and his areas of concern at the moment.
“I believe in tormenting the opposition with speed”: Paul van Ass
Paul van Ass believes that speed is a key element in field hockey and his prime focus will be on making his players react quickly on the field. When asked about his game-plan, the coach says,
“My strategy is based on speed. Hockey is a fast game and it is not a physical sport. My style is to torment our rivals with speed and agility. Some people may not agree with me. I will take each and every game seriously and there is no room for complacency.”
World League very important in view of Rio Olympics:
India is the first team to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics after their gold medal-winning effort at the Asia last year. In order to ensure a better show at the Olympics, Paul van Ass aims to select 25 best hockey players across the country and mould them into a strong team. The Dutchman also emphasizes on strengthening the core which would comprise of Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath, Birendra Lakra and Akashdeep Singh.
The upcoming Hockey World League will be an important tournament for the boys as the coach would look to apply maximum pressure on them to bring out their best. The league will be played between June 20th and July 5th in Antwerp, Belgium. This will help them grow sharper and come out as better players when they would battle in Brazil to regain their Olympic crown.
Women’s hockey team geared up to seal Rio berth under new coach:
While the men’s team is under the responsible hands of Paul van Ass, the women’s unit too has been joined by a new coach. Canada’s Mathias Ahrens assumed the position of chief coach of the Indian women’s hockey team on May 5th, thus ending their five-month long wait. Earlier, Kiwi Anthony Thornton had been appointed as the national women’s team’s coach, but he could not take up the position on account of his ill-health.
Soon after his appointment, Ahrens expressed his views on the current framework of the team and outlined his major objectives over the next few months.The Canadian’s first assignment will begin in Antwerp as the women’s team will participate at the World League on June 20th.
Ahrens is also positive about the chances of the Indian women’s team qualifying for Rio Olympics. He has shown great faith in the girls and hopes that they put in their best to seal a berth at the Rio Olympics.