Hockey Olympic Qualifiers: India women's team coach talks power of repetition, mental game

Indian women's hockey team coach Sjoerd Marijne felt that playing difficult matches in the semis and final of the FIH Series Finals has boosted the team's confidence ahead of FIH Olympic Qualifiers.

Members of the Indian women's national team and coach Sjoerd Marijne at New Delhi during their meeting with Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju,   -  PTI

Coach Sjoerd Marijne wants the Indian women’s hockey team to understand the “power of repetition” to train the mind and body ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers in November.

The Indian women sealed an Olympic qualifier spot by reaching the summit clash in FIH Hockey Series and capped it off by winning the tournament with a 3-1 win over Japan in the final.

Marijne said he is happy with the overall performance of the side.

“As a higher ranked country, if you go to a qualifier, you know you have to win and I am very happy with their performance. I know a few teams were low-ranked and there was not much challenge in the pool matches, so the challenge in the semis and finals was even bigger,” he said.

“You have to keep training and improving, it is the power of repetition and also train mental side. Now they have the experience of winning and playing difficult matches and it gives a big boost to the team.”

India missed a few opportunities initially against Chile in the semifinal but Rani Rampal’s side bounced back from a goal down to outwit the South American side 4-2 to seal its place in the Olympic Qualifiers.

“We were not in the rhythm, we also had three days rest but the team did very well. The first half against Chile was not perfect because we had to adjust to the speed of the game but after that we did well,” Marijne said.

“I was happy how we came back but I was not happy with how we started. The level went too low, we can’t allow that because we need to have a basic level where everybody plays.

The 45-year old also spoke about the crucial role the team psychologists have played in the success.

“They (the team) had some nerves in the semifinals. The nerves disappeared in the finals and that is something we have to keep working on, if we can improve that our level will only get higher. So the psychologists we have Priyanka (Prabhakar) and Somya (Awasthi) are important for the team.”

The Dutchman also said it will be an advantage if India plays its Olympic qualifiers at home.

“We are ranked 9, so we will have to wait for the continental championships to be over, so yeah we will play at home but still we will have to wait,” he said.

“It is a good thing because these girls didn’t play enough match in India like the men. So it would be a great opportunity and an advantage.”

Asked if he was happy with the penalty corner conversation of the team, he said: “Yeah, there is no worry but we have to maintain that. Gurjit (Kaur) has the quality to do that in the right moment and not many dragflicker can do that the way she did in the semifinals and finals.”

Seven qualifying events will now be held in October or November to determine the seven teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the FIH will come up with the draw in September.

Talking about the preparation for the qualifiers, Marijne said: “It will be the same, because in the camps, we have played Korea, Ireland, Spain for preparation. We have practised against these countries and now we will have pre-Olympic qualifier events like Australia will come there.

“Good opponents will be there. We will do everything possible to be well prepared.”

Asked if he felt India could have scored more goals, Marijne said: “If you see, we scored four against Chile and three goals in the finals, and it is not about scoring only goals, we defended very well and especially in the finals.”