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Roelant Oltmans Returns, Will Design Roadmap for Madhya Pradesh Hockey

After having been shown the door by Hockey India for not having a clear roadmap for the Indian men’s hockey team, Roelant Oltmans is back at work, this time for the Madhya Pradesh government with the plan of preparing a roadmap for state academies.

News18 Sports

Updated:November 14, 2017, 11:40 AM IST
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Roelant Oltmans Returns, Will Design Roadmap for Madhya Pradesh Hockey
Roelant Oltmans. (Getty Images)
After having been shown the door by Hockey India for not having a clear roadmap for the Indian men’s hockey team, Roelant Oltmans is back at work, this time for the Madhya Pradesh government with the plan of preparing a roadmap for state academies.

Appointed by the Madhya Pradesh sports Minister Yasodhara Raje Scindia to help with the academies in Bhopal and Gwalior and other centres across the state, Oltmans started his new role at the beginning of the month and is set to stay till 2021.

“The Madhya Pradesh government has a number of academies and they have their coaches. I will try to give my knowledge and information to them along with the directors and the (state) sports minister,” Oltmans told The Indian Express from Gwalior.

The Dutchman first stint in Indian hockey was as a high performance director in 2013 before he was elevated to the post of the men’s team’s chief coach two years later.
He was credited with bringing stability in the team that looked divided due to constant chopping and changing of players. Under him, the national team won medals at the Champions Trophy and World League finals while he also played a crucial role in India winning the junior World Cup last year.

But all of that did not eventually snowball into anything nice as Hockey India sacked him in September after India’s disastrous performance at the World League semifinals. The Dutchman was replaced by compatriot Sjoerd Marijne.

He was approached by the Madhya Pradesh government soon after he became a ‘free agent’. “I have been in good contact with people in Madhya Pradesh. I have been at their academies before and both times it was a positive experience. Some time back, their girls’ team was in Holland for camps and competitions and I helped them there. So when they got to know I am a free-agent, they contacted me to ask if I was interested,” Oltmans says.

No Dwelling on the Past

Oltmans had no second thoughts about accepting the offer despite unceremonious exit from the national team setup.

“I see this as working for the Madhya Pradesh state government, let us make things very clear. And I had no hesitation (in saying yes) because my past experience and relations with people in the state government have been positive and it still is,” he says.

Madhya Pradesh is regarded as one of the cradles of Indian hockey, producing several international stars–mainly for the women’s team. At the Rio Olympics last year, seven players in the women’s squad were from the Gwalior-based Madhya Pradesh Women’s Hockey Academy.

As the high performance director in India, one of Oltmans’s key responsibilities was to help develop academies and streamline the talent-identification process. But critics alleged that he focused only on the senior teams while not giving the grassroots enough time. Hockey India’s plans for launching an academy, too, never materialised.

Madhya Pradesh has 29 feeder centres and Oltmans is expected to design a system which will see the crème de la crème graduate from these from these centres to Bhopal and Gwalior.

“We tried to make a couple of things happen and we weren’t successful in that area. We have to be honest about that. It is not easy as you need enough manpower to make it happen,” Oltmans says.
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