Hockey India sacks chief coach Oltmans

The search for a new coach is likely to begin soon with High Performance Director David John in charge in the interim.

Roelant Oltmans has associated with the national hockey team since 2013.   -  K. Murali Kumar

It's official. Roelant Oltmans has been sacked as chief coach of the Indian men's hockey team and there is no replacement as of now. The search for a new coach is likely to begin soon with High Performance Director David John in charge in the interim, including the upcoming Asia Cup next month.

Oltmans became the fifth coach to be shown the door in seven years, even since Hockey India came into existence replacing the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation (IHF). Oltmans was also the longest-serving foreign staff in Indian hockey ever. Having come on board as the High Performance Director in January 2013, he was made the chief coach in 2015, a post he continued to hold till Saturday.

READ: Experts weigh in on Oltmans' sacking

Indian hockey, in a way, has come a full circle in four years. Oltmans had first taken charge of the Indian team temporarily just before the 2013 Asia Cup after Australian Michael Nobbs had been removed. The story has been repeated this time around with Oltmans at the receiving end and an Australian HPD in charge.

FOREIGN COACHES IN THE LAST SEVEN YEARS
Jose Brasa (Spain): May 2009-November 2010.

Appointed till 2012 London Olympics, helped India win a Commonwealth Games silver for the first time in 2010. Contract not renewed after India finished runner-up at 2010 Asian Games, failing to earn direct qualification.
Michel Nobbs (Australia): June 2011-June 2013.

Appointed till 2016 Rio Olympics, helped qualify for London Games. India finished last, was shown the door after sixth-place finish at the Hockey World League Round 3.
Terry Walsh (Australia): October 2013-October 2014.

Appointed till 2016 Rio Olympics, helped win gold after 16 years at the 2014 Asian Games, becoming first country to qualify. Sacked after clash with federation.
Paul Van Ass (Holland): February-July 2015

Appointed till 2018 World Cup, led India to 4th place finish at HWL Rd 3 in Antwerp. Did not return after spat with Hockey India president Narinder Batra.
Roelant Oltmans (Holland): July 2015-August 2017

Given charge till Rio Olympics, then extended contract till 2020 Tokyo, dismissed after a string of unimpressive outings at the international level since Rio Games.

 

Read:  Oltmans sacking leaves Brasa surprised

Three-day meet

The decision to remove 63-year old Oltmans was taken after a marathon three-day meeting of Hockey India's High Performance and Development Committee here. The committee included over 24 members that included former players, current team members Sardar Singh, P.R. Sreejesh and Manpreet Singh; Oltmans himself and other members of the staff, HPD David John; and several HI officials.

“The committee was convened since we are collectively not satisfied with the team’s performance in 2016 and 2017 and feel that wins in Asia can’t be a benchmark for success. We need to show results beyond intent in key international tournaments. The current format of coaching was not showing results beyond a certain level,” committee chairman Harbinder Singh said.

Surprise

The Dutchman was brief in his message to the players soon after the decision was taken. “Dear Boys, Today was my last Day in the position of Chief Coach of the Indian Men Hockey Team. There is no base for further co-operation. The Vision is different and Mr. David John will be in charge. It has been an pleasure and honour to work with you all. It has been a great time and enriched my life. Unfortunately you're not here and I can't inform you personally. I wish you all the best in the future. I'm sure we'll meet again somewhere in the World,” he wrote.

The players have been surprised by the decision. “We had our training in the morning and everything was normal, there was no indication of anything like this. We got the message in the afternoon. Let's see what happens next,” a senior member of the side at the ongoing camp in Bengaluru told Sportstar.

Read:  Oltmans: ‘I was always prepared to be sacked’

Oltmans' timeline

June 2011: Applies for job of men's team chief coach, pipped by Michael Nobbs. David John accompanied as exercise physiologist with Nobbs.

January 2013: Named Hockey India's High Performance Director.

July 2013: Nobbs is dismissed just before Asia Cup, Oltmans takes charge as interim coach.

October 2013: Terry Walsh appointed chief coach, Oltmans returns to HPD role.

October 2014: Walsh sacked, Oltmans again gets interim charge.

February 2015: Paul van Ass appointed chief coach.

July 2015: Van Ass sacked, Oltmans given full-time charge till Rio Olympics.

November 2016: Contract extended till Tokyo Olympics 2020.

September 2017: Sacked as chief coach.