Indian women’s hockey team coach Janneke Schopman is stressing on consistency, without which, she said on Friday, the side will struggle to go far in the upcoming World Cup.
The quadrennial event will be jointly hosted by the Netherlands and Spain from July 1 to 17.
India’s best-ever result at the World Cup is a fourth-place finish in the inaugural edition in 1974. In 2018, India finished eighth.
“If we truly play to our potential, we play the way we know we can consistently, anything is possible. Women hockey at this moment is very tight, anyone can beat anyone,” Schopman told PTI in an interview.
“(But) consistency is a big point of attention. If we can play consistently well, top-4, and who knows a podium in the World Cup is a possibility.”
“At the same time if we don’t perform we can miss the quarterfinals.”
The coach said the players need to understand their potential and deliver on the field in order to achieve consistency.
“I think we have great potential and if we actually play to our potential we are a tough team to beat,” the 45-year-old said.
Schopman, a double Olympic medallist defender from the Netherlands, said players will have to shoulder responsibility to achieve success in the World Cup.
“If anything I need to see is players taking up ownership on the field and believe that they can perform.
“Realistically, I think we are up there. We are in the top 6. Our performance against Argentina (recently in Pro League) showed that we can compete against any country.”
The former Dutch player said besides on-field performance, taking care of the mental side of players also contributes to a team’s success.
“Being in the present moment and not letting mistakes trouble you is important. So it is important to spend a lot of time discussing the mental side of the game. It is crucial for performance.”
India finished a creditable third in their debut FIH Pro League season and Schopman said the recent back-to-back high-intensity matches against Belgium and Argentina augur well ahead of the World Cup.
“Pretty happy with our preparation. We have another week. Last week we had the Pro League matches and quite happy with the way we responded after the Belgium matches. So preparation is going in the right direction.”
“It’s a great achievement to finish on the podium in your first Pro League. We had good runs against pretty much every team we played. Apart from points we got we learned a lot from these games. It was a satisfying run,” she said.
“Our team has not played many games. Playing against top 6 in the world in games that matters is of huge benefit because you have to perform, be ready and every mistake counts.
“In a way it was good for us. We played the way we wanted to and see where we need to improve and learn from every game.”
Schopman, who was deputy to Sjoerd Marijne during India’s Tokyo Olympics campaign, said the fourth-place finish there was a huge confidence booster for the team.
“As a player you train hard to get results, so in Tokyo when we got results and showed what we can do, automatically the players started to have more self-belief. Believing in yourself is something that is hard to come by,” she said.
The Indian team is placed in Pool B alongside England, New Zealand and China and will open its campaign against England on June 3 at Amstelveen.
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