Jun 8, 2021

Sjoerd Marijne will step down after Olympics after having the last laugh

Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Derek Jeter had once said, ‘I love it when people doubt me. It makes me work harder to prove them wrong.’ 
Coach Marijne has proved his doubters wrong

This was mindset of with which Coach Sjoerd Marijne went back to become the coach of Indian women hockey team after his less than satisfactory spell as Indian men’s team chief coach. 

Former Netherlands International hockey coach Sjoerd Marijne was hired as coach of Indian women hockey after Rio Olympics.

Coaching Indian hockey teams has always been a challenging affair. Adding intense media scrutiny behind each decision on and off the pitch does put a lot of pressure on coaches and the coaching staff.  

Joined the Indian women hockey team as chief coach in 2017, Sjoerd Marijne had lot on his plate to work on. Last place finish in the Rio Olympics was something that Indian team management wanted to avoid. The challenge was enormous- players not as technically gifted compared to other nations, poor fitness levels, overreliance on a single player in the team, lack of international matches and added media scrutiny was some of the things Marijne had to face. 

While he was just finding his foot with the women team, Marijne was moved on to coach Indian men team after Roelant Oltmans was sacked due to mediocre performance. The women’s team performance had not been great under his coaching and media was just waiting with their guns pointed. A single mishap and they would have emptied their clips.  

Marijne and Indian men team were not a great combination. The approach set by Marijne was something that Indian men team did not understand. The timing was wrong too... 2018 was to be a huge year for the men team. Olympics qualification was on the line via Asian Games, and flat performance in the CWG did not help his cause. The media turned against him and so did the players. Harendra Singh’s exploits with the women team in CWG was getting rave reviews and finally after 7 months Sjoerd Marijne was once again made a coach of Indian women team. 

A usually vocal coach who was happy to explain his methods to Indian media had suddenly went quiet. An average Joe thought it is the lack of confidence but, something else was going on in Marijne’s mind. His sole agenda from then on was to prove his doubters wrong and helping India qualify for Olympics. 

Without getting bitter or making a fuss, he went to his role of coaching Indian women team again. There were some rumors of Indian women players to being unhappy with him, but it did not faze him a bit. He went back to the drawing board and started devising a strategy for the Indian women team, a strategy that would help Indian team achieve its potential and thus qualify for Tokyo Olympics.  

His plan was simple but effective. Playing as a single unit, reducing reliance on Rani Rampal, and improving the fitness of players was something that he had in his find. The 2018 World Cup where Indian team reached the quarter finals saw a glimpse of that. 

The team was a strong defensive unit, holding Great Britain and USA to 1-1 draw, and counter attacking hockey that saw India beat Italy 3-0 to reach the quarterfinals. 

He built on those strengths in the coming Asian Games where we saw defensive masterclass from the Indian team. The team conceded just 3 goals in the entire tournament and the defensive shape of the Indian team allowed forward line to work their magic. 

The team’s silver medal finish in the Asian Games was expected by very few people and it changed the way Indian hockey fans rated Coach Marijne.  

2019 saw India’s performance once again touching new heights where they beat Japan to win FIH World Series Finals with another great defensive performance. The New Zealand tour in 2020 also saw Indian team notching up wins against Great Britain and hosts New Zealand that proved to the world that Indian women hockey team too belong among the top nations in the world. 

After the end of Tokyo Olympics, coach Marijne has decided to draw the curtains on his Indian hockey journey. A journey where he became a fan favorite from a pariah after his misadventure with Indian men hockey team. Whatever the result of Tokyo Olympics be, Coach Marijne, who proved his doubters wrong after helping Indian women team scale new heights, will have the last laugh.  

(Coach Sjoerd Marijne has decided leave Indian hockey team at the end of Tokyo Olympics)

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