‘Copying Australian or European style too much will not help’

Jacques Brinkman… hockey is his first love.-R.V.MOORTHY

“India has a lot of good players and it can become one of the best teams in the world. India has to import the knowledge and experience of the coaches to work from behind the scene,” says the former Dutch midfielder and coach, Jacques Brinkman. By Y.B. Sarangi.

Two-time Olympic champion (1996, 2000) and winner of the World Cup twice (1990, 1998), Jacques Brinkman was one of the top midfielders of his time. After retiring in 2000 following a successful international career spanning over a decade, the Dutch hockey player took up coaching assignments and worked as an analyst too.

Brinkman, who was once in line to coach the Indian hockey team, was present at the Junior World Cup in Delhi as a journalist, writing analytical pieces for a Dutch newspaper. He was also keeping track of his son’s progress in the Netherlands under-21 side.

Brinkman spoke to Sportstar about coaching and his new role as a journalist.

Excerpts: Question: Why did you become a journalist?

Answer: It is a part-time job. I like to see all the hockey matches. I give marks to all the players. I always give marks to the National men’s and women’s teams to promote our hockey. Here, I am also watching my son Thierry, playing in the under-21 Dutch team. I will also watch the under-21 team and report.

The Dutch women’s team played in the Hockey World League in Argentina and now this tournament; there will be the Hockey World League for men next month and then the Hockey India League. I like to be a reporter in hockey tournaments. I write for the biggest newspaper in Holland, The Telegraaf. I write analysis of hockey matches.

In cricket and football, we see a lot of former players taking up journalism. It does not normally happen in hockey. As a journalist, how has your experience been so far?

It is nice. In football, it happens a lot, but in hockey, I think, I am the only one. Sometimes, it is difficult for the players because they say, ‘Hey Jacques Brinkman, you were one among us and now you are a journalist.’ But I always try to be objective; I see what I see and it is my opinion. Sometimes, some others may say it looks different.

I like the job because you are not just a supporter or spectator but you have to look at all aspects and take things down to analyse.

Are you into commentating for television?

Yes. In the (2014) World Cup in the Netherlands, I will do commentary for NOS, the Dutch television. I like it and maybe when I improve my English I will do it for Ten Sports or Star Sports… I also want to be part of the Hockey India League, may be as a reporter or an analyst.

Along with Michael Nobbs you were also a candidate for the job as coach of the Indian team. How do you analyse the Indian team’s performance during and after Nobbs’ tenure?

I had explained three years ago when I was a candidate: India has a lot of good players and it can become one of the best teams in the world. India has to import the knowledge and experience of the coaches to work from behind the scene. I think you have to put an Indian coach and Indian manager in front and we (need to) help from the back. We coach the coach. Now Roelant Oltmans (the High Performance Director) is trying to do that in all the places. It will take a long time.

If you hire a foreign coach, it will not help. In my opinion, a foreign coach should not change (the style) but should try to play the players to their strengths — your right and left midfielders always attack and not defend. If you try to copy the Australian or European style too much, it will not help. It happened in Pakistan and the Pakistan team is really going down now. India is still there in the World Cup in 2014, but not Pakistan.

The former coach of Spain, Maurits Hendriks (from Holland), lived in that country and learnt their language. For a foreign coach in India and Pakistan, it is really difficult because you cannot speak the language. The last one who was successful in Pakistan was Hans Jorritsma. He was never on the bench. When the first half was over, he would go to the change room, give his inputs and come back. That is the best way to do it.

Do you think Terry Walsh and Roelant Oltmans are the coaches for the future of Indian hockey?

There have to be more Indian coaches and managers involved from the bench, otherwise it is not structural. You must look how to build teams for the next 25-30 years…You can use the HIL to show the Indian coaches (the way) and let them coach. If they make mistakes, it is okay as it is not really so important who wins. HIL is really a great platform. Oltmans and Walsh should show the Indian coaches how to train (the players). Only when you make mistakes, you learn and become better.

Will you be interested in coaching India in future?

Yes. My style is to get on with the Indian coaches and trainers. I coached for 12 years in Holland. I (as a coach) want to know who you are because only then you can coach. You need to have feedback from the guys who are in the team. Hendriks succeeded in Spain because he lived there for eight years.