Van Gent: 'Every captain in the future has to stop’

Asked if Sardar Singh could ever return as full-time captain, Indian men's hockey team's strategic coach, Roger van Gent said: "Every captain in the future has to stop. There is a moment. I don't know when or why but it's a normal process in sport."

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“You give more responsibility to one player, he thinks he has to work harder, become smarter and show keenness to impress the coach,” said Roger van Gent.   -  Shreedutta Chidananda

The Indian men's hockey team's strategic coach, Roger van Gent, believes all captains have a limited shelf life. Asked at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) here if Sardar Singh could ever return as full-time captain, van Gent said: “Every captain in the future has to stop. There is a moment. I don't know when or why but it's a normal process in sport. You're the captain and you get to a moment when some other guy stands up, a young player becomes a senior. It's a normal process.”

India named Manpreet Singh as the vice-captain for this month's Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia. The 24-year-old half-back took over from S. V. Sunil as P. R. Sreejesh's deputy. The idea behind it, Van Gent stated, was to create more leaders in the team.

“Since this process of rotating captains started in the team, you see the players also grow,” the Dutchman said, “You give more responsibility to one player, he thinks he has to work harder, become smarter and show keenness to impress the coach. It’s working well.”

Sunil, who is still recovering from a wrist injury and could miss the trip to Malaysia (despite being named in the squad), had improved a great deal after being appointed vice-captain, van Gent felt.

“The moment he became vice-captain, I saw him grow,” he said. “I always found him to be a great player and striker. The whole world likes to see him that way. But making him vice-captain made him more responsible for the team.

"He’s a leader at the moment and a leader by example, especially in difficult matches. He has to be responsible as to who will start the move, who will take the ball ahead and who will penetrate the circle when the opposition defence is really good. He’s aware of the responsibility thrust upon him and he’s coping well.”

Van Gent was full of praise for India's Junior team, which finished fourth in the Australian Hockey League on Sunday. “They were excellent and maybe exceeded expectations,” he said.

“It's a pity they came fourth and not third because a medal is always good. I know the competition there (in Australia) and I have trained many of those teams in the Netherlands. They are strong. And you have to be a strong team to compete and play in a semifinal (in that league). It’s a big achievement. It's a big boost to their confidence ahead of the Junior World Cup.”