Indian women’s hockey team aiming for podium at Commonwealth Games: Harendra Singh

Hindustan Times, Lucknow | By
Mar 14, 2018 11:33 PM IST

Ever since Harendra Singh became coach of Indian women’s hockey team , success has been chasing him, with the most recent being the 3-1 series win against South Africa.

Winning seems to have become a habit of Indian women’s hockey coach Harendra Singh and he isn’t ready to accept anything less than a podium finish at the Commonwealth Games, beginning in Gold Coast on April 4.

The Indian women's hockey team has been in good form under coach Harendra Singh.(AFP)
The Indian women's hockey team has been in good form under coach Harendra Singh.(AFP)

Harendra has been instrumental in the India junior men’s side winning the World Cup in 2016, the Asia Cup, the Eurasia Cup and the four-nation tournament. And, ever since he became coach of the women’s side, success has been chasing him, with the most recent being the 3-1 series win against South Africa.

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“For me, thinking beyond a podium finish is impossible. I am always hungry for success and my girls too think that way. We have done our homework well, and that’s why we are aiming for a podium finish in Gold Coast,” said Harendra on Wednesday in a telephonic conversation from Bengaluru soon after Hockey India had announced an 18-member squad for the event.

“We have the oxygen to climb Mount Everest. We have the strength to beat any team in the world. My girls are as confident as I am.”

He said that changing the mindset of the girls, so that they could believe in themselves, was a big challenge in the last few months as they acquired new techniques. “That (change in mindset) is the reason why we have beaten higher-ranked teams on our recent twin tours. Wins on the tours generated more self-belief and confidence.”

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Harendra, whose focus is on speed, stamina and strength, sounded satisfied with the girls’ overall fitness. “Speed, stamina and strength are important in any sport these days and the girls have excelled in all departments.

“I always tell my players that if you are fit enough, you can take the right decisions at the right time and that is very important in hockey. Once fitness is there, the players can keep possession,” said Harendra, who said the team will have a different strategy for every match at the CWG.

The coach said that his focus at the camp was also on improvement of individual skills. “Individual training, personality development etc are part of my training and it makes things easy for the players.

“I tell my players not to think about the rivals. Once you start thinking about others, your game suffers, so just focus on your strengths and keep the rivals guessing.”

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Terming the side quite balanced, Harendra said the match fitness of Deepika and Poonam was a big plus for the side. “With their presence, our defence and forward line have gained more confidence.”

Admiring goalkeeper Savita’s skills, Harendra said, “She is a cool customer who doesn’t lose her focus even in tough situation. She knows her responsibilities.”

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    Sharad Deep is a versatile sports journalist, who loves writing on cricket and Olympic sport. He has played cricket at the university level and has been writing for Hindustan Times since 1997.

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