FIH ARTICLE 6th October

After India’s remarkable run in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, where they missed out on a bronze medal by a whisker, the tough task of replicating similar success fell to Janneke Schopman. . The Dutch coach had already been a part of the Indian set up, having joined the team as an analytical coach in January 2020, but the step-up to head coach role would shine a spotlight like never before.

To make Janneke’s job more complicated, India’s talismanic player, Rani Rampal, spent most of the 2021-22 season injured, missing out on major events including most of the FIH Hockey Pro League and the entirety of the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. However, a big role in Schopman’s success came from her ability to develop a squad that was greater than the sum of its parts. Her tenure so far has seen many players come into prominence, carrying out specific tasks that they excel at.

The Indian team under Schopman made its debut in the FIH Hockey Pro League in the 2021-22 season and produced incredible results including wins over Germany, Netherlands, Spain and eventual champions Argentina (in a shoot-out) to finish in the 3rd position! The most impressive aspect of their game was their ability to defend when needed and turn up the pressure on the opponents' goal when they saw an opportunity. The shoot-out win over Argentina was especially impressive, as India largely dominated the game against a team who had only dropped 6 points in total, throughout the season.

The Indian team went to the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup Spain and Netherlands 2022 on the back of the strong showing in the Pro League, but struggled to score goals in the event despite dominating most of their matches, and had to settle for a 9th place finish. They quickly put that disappointment behind them as they headed to the Commonwealth Games, just 10 days after finishing their World Cup games. India’s persistence finally paid off as they started making their positive play count towards goals and ended their campaign finishing on the podium for the first time in 16 years, defeating New Zealand in the Bronze medal match in a shoot-out.

The team that Schopman has built plays fearless hockey and the players have been aided by their coach in reaching the best version of themselves. For their part, the players frequently bring up the role Janneke has played in getting them to believe in themselves, and every time they step out on the field they want to do not just their country, but also their coach, proud and this feeling was reflected in their celebrations as they won the bronze medal at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.

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