Indian hockey team to have multiple captains in Rio

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Indian hockey team to have multiple captains in Rio

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Arun S Kaimal

07/23/2016

A day before the departure to Madrid for some practice matches, Indian hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans confirmed that the team will have multiple captains during their campaign in Rio. Apart from skipper PR Sreejesh, Sardar Singh, VR Raghunath, SV Sunil and Manpreet Singh will wear the armband.

The Indian hockey team will leave for Madrid in the early hours of Sunday for some practice matches ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio from August 5. Hockey India had surprisingly selected goalkeeper PR Sreejesh as the captain for the tournament instead of regular captain Sardar Singh, but coach Roelant Oltmans says that he will be the one calling all the shots at Rio.

"Captaincy is everything, no doubt. I think in India it's a bit too much responsibility because of the comparison with cricket captains. The cricket captain has a bigger role because he plans the strategy. It is different for us. To be honest, he's (Sreejesh) a nice man but I decide the strategy, not Sreejesh. Not even Sardar before,” Oltmans told the Times of India.

Captaincy is everything, no doubt. I think in India it's a bit too much responsibility because of the comparison with cricket captains. The cricket captain has a bigger role because he plans the strategy. It is different for us. To be honest, he's (Sreejesh) a nice man but I decide the strategy, not Sreejesh. Not even Sardar before."

With Sreejesh the only goalkeeper in the 16-man squad, the team will keep the custodian away from wearing the armband in order to save him from getting any cards or penalties. The other senior members in the squad will share the captaincy during the campaign.

"From now on, we will share captaincy. Sreejesh is the captain but he will never wear the band during matches. Sardar, Raghunath, Sunil and Mandeep will wear it. We worked on the group of captains to make sure on and off the pitch, more responsibility is taken up by more players," elaborated Oltmans.

Also, read : [Exclusive] PR Sreejesh: Goalkeeping is a thankless job

India had a horror campaign in the last Olympics in London and had finished last in the 12-team competition. Seven players from the squad at London are part of the team to Rio, but Oltmans believes that even though the players carry that pain in their hearts, the mentality has been erased.

From now on, we will share captaincy. Sreejesh is the captain but he will never wear the band during matches. Sardar, Raghunath, Sunil and Mandeep will wear it. We worked on the group of captains to make sure on and off the pitch, more responsibility is taken up by more players."

“The pain is in their hearts but not in the minds anymore. If it is in the heart, then I understand because London was important for the players. There were reasons behind why the 2012 didn't work out well. What we learnt from then is setting targets in a different way. What we need to do now is be realistic in our approach of the game," said Oltmans, who started off as the high-performance director and took over the reins of the team following the exit of Paul Van Ass last year, reported TOI.

The coach also played down Indian hockey’s glorious history in the Olympics and said that they are only aiming for their best possible performance in Rio.

"What can I do with history? Nothing. We take it into consideration. We know about the fantastic past of the Indian hockey team at the Olympics, but we don't live in the past or the future. The only thing we are aiming for is the best possible performance for this team in Rio. That's the only thing in our hands.

"When it's only on my shoulders, I don't care. I can cope with that pressure. I don't run away from it. The fact that people are talking like that again is because we had a good year. This year, we created our own expectation. At the same time, it shouldn't influence the performance of the players," signed off the 62-year-old.

Also, read : Can the hockey team prove Viren Rasquinha happily wrong at the Olympics?

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