Indian hockey team’s strategic coach Roger van Gent has hinted that midfielder Sardar Singh is unlikely to return as skipper after PR Sreejesh was retained as captain for the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia. van Gent also spoke of SV Sunil as captain material.
“Every captain in the future has to stop. There is a moment. I don’t know when or why but it’s a normal process in sport. You’re the captain and you get to a moment when some other guy stands up, a young player becomes a senior. It’s a normal process,” van Gent told The Hindu when asked whether Sardar Singh could ever return as India's full-time captain.
India named Manpreet Singh as vice-captain in place of Sunil for the Asian Champions Trophy. According to van Gent, the idea is to create more leaders in the team.
“Since this process of rotating captains started in the team, you see the players also grow. You give more responsibility to one player, he thinks he has to work harder, become smarter and show keenness to impress the coach. It’s working well,” the Dutchman said.
van Gent also hailed forward Sunil for shouldering the responsibility as the team's vice-captain at the Olympics. “The moment he became vice-captain, I saw him grow,” he said. “I always found him to be a great player and striker. The whole world likes to see him that way. But making him vice-captain made him more responsible for the team,” the 56-year-old said.
“He’s a leader at the moment and a leader by example, especially in difficult matches. He has to be responsible as to who will start the move, who will take the ball ahead and who will penetrate the circle when the opposition defence is really good,” he added.
van Gent was all praise for India’s junior team which finished fourth in the Australian Hockey League on Sunday.
“They were excellent and maybe exceeded expectations,” he said. “It’s a pity they came fourth and not third because a medal is always good. I know the competition there (in Australia) and I have trained many of those teams in the Netherlands,” van Gent said.
“They are strong. And you have to be a strong team to compete and play in a semifinal (in that league). It’s a big achievement. It’s a big boost to their confidence ahead of the Junior World Cup.”