Pro League will be about fine tuning our game play: Schopman

New Delhi, Feb 15 (Hockey News) Pro League will help the Indian women hockey team fine-tune its gameplan ahead of major tournaments this year, says chief coach Janneke Schopman, who also hinted at some experimentation during the event.

The Indian team has a packed calendar ahead with several big-ticket tournaments like the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games scheduled.

"I want our team to perform and to be able to be at our best in a tournament like the World Cup or Asian Games. The players needs to be at the level that they get the experience they need," Schopman said during a virtual media interaction arranged by Hockey India.

"And with COVID happening, our players didn't have that much experience in the last two, two and a half years of playing actual games. So, the Pro League will be a lot about how people are preserving their sport, making sure that they can play and then also fine tuning our gameplay." "You'll see changes in our lineup, but I'm not going to bring in 10-15 new players or something," she said.

Despite not getting the desired result in the Asian Hockey Cup last month, Schopman is happy with the team's progress.

The India team failed to defend its title at the Asian Hockey Cup last month in Muscat, finishing third. However, they began their Pro League campaign with a bang, drubbing China 7-1.

"The girls did really well. Of course we didn't get the results we wanted in terms of scoreline but I was actually quite happy to see the progress throughout the tournament into the Pro League," Schopman said.

"I'm really trying to focus on the way we want to play and how do we want to attack and how do we want to look as a team and I think we made big steps there. So overall, it was a wasn't a good experience not great in terms of outcomes, but good in terms of progress." The Indian team is now slated to meet Spain on February 26 and 27 in the Pro League.

The matches against Netherlands have been postponed after the Dutch women's team pulled out of its back-to-back FIH Pro League matches that were scheduled to be played in Bhubaneswar on February 19 and 20 due to rise in COVID-19 cases in the European country.

Talking about the preparations Schopman, said "It's just like changing gears. Netherlands played Spain a week ago. So we had those games and instead of looking at the Netherlands, you look at Spain now.

"Spain is a very good team, a very skilful team they'd like to move the ball well and create a technical opportunities." Schopman took over from Sjored Marijne, who left after a successful Olympic campaign, and the new coach has already implemented some changes according to her philosophy.

"Now is the time for India to make the next step and next step is playing these teams, and maybe winning to becoming a more dominant team. If we want to be more dominant, we have to go more if we won the ball more.

"We have to train a little bit different. We have to create more opportunities. So yes, slowly but surely you build off of the foundation. You change small things.

"I like attacking. At the same time, I like a very strong defense that plays a little bit higher on the field. And sometimes we make mistakes and that's costly, of course, but it's going the way I see our team develop." Asked if India could field two different teams for different tournaments, Schopman said that is a possibility.

"India is having discussions about that. I don't know yet what the plan will be. We are right now really focusing on the World Cup. And of course, the Asian Games is the most important tournament this year where we want to qualify directly for the Olympics. "We're currently under construction. We're looking at what will be the best way for us to prepare." 

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News Source : PTI


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