Sjoerd Marijne to take charge of India men’s team

Marijne would switch over from women's team to the men's after returning from the Europe tour by September 20. Harendra will take charge of the women's team.

Sjoerd Marijne was the head coach of the Indian women’s team.   -  Twitter (@TheHockeyIndia)

The musical chairs being played by Hockey India in terms of its coaching staff has brought a new person to the seat of chief men’s coach. In the process, several other seats have had a change of personnel.

Women’s coach Sjoerd Marijne, who took charge in February this year for a four-year period, will now guide the senior men’s team, formally till 2020 subject to periodical reviews.

The women’s team, currently on tour of Europe, will have former junior men’s coach Harendra Singh in charge. The team was not aware of the change.

While Marijne’s only prior experience with a men’s team was with the Dutch Under-21 side from 2011-14, Harendra has never worked with women. This, interestingly, would be the first time the junior men’s World Cup-winning coach has been given independent charge of a senior national side on a long-term basis.

 

The appointments were curiously announced on Friday on Twitter by new Sports Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, followed by official confirmations by the Ministry and the Sports Authority of India. There was no formal statement by Hockey India.

The status of the rest of the support staff for either team, including women’s Dutch analytical coach Eric Wonink, is yet to be clarified. Marijne would switch over after returning from the Europe tour by September 20, when Harendra would also take charge with the upcoming Asia Cups next month being the first tournaments for both in their new jobs.

Read: Marijne's appointment defies logic, says hockey stalwarts

The decision is a culmination of a series of events that began with the sacking of Dutchman Roelant Oltmans last week. Officially, the decision is being touted as the best possible under the circumstances.

“Given that Marijne has been around for about eight months, he understands the Indian system and culture. Also, the applications we received were not very impressive. Harendra, meanwhile, is undoubtedly the best coach in the country,” Hockey India officials confirmed.

Interestingly, HI had invited applications for the job earlier this week, with the last date being September 15, only to take down the advertisement on its website late on Thursday evening.

As for unimpressive applications, HI did not wait till the last date even as it can be confirmed that certain proven coaches, including Germany’s Valentine Altenburg and Argentina’s Olympic gold-winning coach Carlos Retegui had expressed interest.

Sources admitted it was more a compromise formula in the face of the Ministry’s disapproval of Oltmans’s sacking. As such, Marijne was proposed as the face-saver.

“His salary is half of what Oltmans was getting and the federation convinced SAI to accept him. Harendra, being an Air India employee, is not eligible for dual-pay under SAI rules. It was a win-win formula,” sources said.