Indian Women’s Hockey team coach Harendra Singh has set his goals higher after helping the team emerge champions in Asia Cup after 13 years. The chief coach feels that it is just the beginning as the women’s team will have to face tougher challenges in 2018.
They have to participate in Commonwealth Games in Australia, Asian Games in Indonesia apart from the World Cup in England. “The Asia Cup is just the foundation, we have to achieve much more. The year 2018 is very crucial for Indian women’s hockey. We have three important tournaments—Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Cup and I expect minimum 2 medals out of these three tournaments,” Harendra said.
By his own admission, he had barely watched women’s hockey, leave aside coaching a side, but the Asia Cup title after a hiatus of 13 years in Kakamigahara, Japan yesterday made him believe that “nothing is impossible” in the world of sport.
“I don’t remember whether I had followed women’s hockey closely before the Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinals in Johannesburg earlier this year,” Harendra was candid in his confession.
But for someone who has been associated with national teams over the years, Harendra was confident that he could deliver in women’s hockey too.
“I knew I can deliver in women’s hockey also. I can make a significant contribution for the Indian women’s team,” he said. Known to be an astute tactician, Harendra had also coached the Indian junior men’s hockey team to World Cup gold in Lucknow in 2016.
“For a coach, every tournament is important. The Junior World Cup win and the Asia Cup title with the girls are completely different,” Harendra did not want to compare the two victories.
But he did put things into perspective.“I had three years to prepare the junior men’s team while I prepared the girls in just 23-24 days. So the satisfaction of both the wins are different. (But) I am never satisfied.”
Harendra has always been an obsessive coach, always hungry for results. The hunger, though, can be gauged from the fact that he never got the opportunity to represent India at the Olympics.
Whether it is in charge of his employer Air India or any other national team, Harendra is never satisfied and always wants to return with a podium finish.
“Any medal would do. The colour of the medal, though, will be decided by the girls. Nothing is impossible,” Harendra replied, when asked about chances of medals in three marquee events next year.
Prior to becoming the continental champions by beating China 5-4 in the shoot-out on Sunday, India had already sneaked through to the World Cup by finishing 8th at the HWL Semifinals in Johannesburg, earlier in 2017.
However, Harendra said that after qualifying for the World Cup on merit, the girls can now hold their heads high. “Since taking over, I just focussed on team bonding and worked on developing their confidence. They have worked towards that and also showed the world that they don’t need favours from others. They can earn their World Cup berth on merit,” he signed off.
With PTI inputs