Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Indian women’s hockey team coach Sjoerd Marijne on Monday 2 August lavished praise on players for putting up an incredible display by beating formidable Australia 1-0 on their way to Olympic semifinals at Tokyo.
“This match also proves dreams can come true. If you start believing and you keep believing and you keep working hard, things can happen. You have to do the work to fulfill your dreams and that’s what we did today.” the coach said after India’s historic win.
“Today, I told the girls to just play freely. The pressure is on the other team and that’s really important to know. The Quarter-Final matches are really difficult for the teams who are higher ranked. And I wanted the players to be proud of themselves today, regardless of the result”.
“And I told the players that at the end of the match, they shouldn’t feel their legs after running so much on the pitch. We defended well today. The defensive structure during Penalty Corners was very good.”
Further elaborating the coach opined “After we qualified for the Quarters, I told the team about the importance of being in the moment and not thinking about what-ifs and that is very difficult for an athlete because there are many things that are constantly playing in your mind, things like what if we win, what if we don’t win, what if I don’t stop the ball, so what I did is showed the team a movie and the film is about staying in the moment and I think that made a big difference in this match against Australia”.
Explaining his strategy, he said: “We didn’t have a lot of practice matches before the Olympics so we kept telling the girls to improve with every match. We focused on every individual improving her performance and if the personal performances are better than the performance of the team will be better”.
“We knew that we had to learn from every match that we play since we didn’t have a lot of games leading into the competition. After we lost 1-5 to the Netherlands, it looked as if everything was shattered, it wasn’t. We only needed to make a few small improvements.”