Bengaluru: Indian women’s hockey team coach Yanek Shopman believes that handling pressure will be important for her team which will enter as ‘strong contenders’ in the upcoming Asian Games. “I believe the mentality of the players as individuals and as a team will make a difference,” Shopman said on Hockey India’s podcast series ‘Hockey Te Charcha’. Can we perform under pressure and deal with the circumstances in front of us? “We have talked about this over the last few months and what it means to be the favorite against the underdog at the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.
The coach said, “We have talked about expectations from this team. We also explain what dangers are out there that can distract and harm us and how we can deal with them. The Netherlands coach said that if her team plays to its potential, it can win the gold medal in Hangzhou and qualify directly for next year’s Paris Olympics. “It’s also important to enjoy the journey,” Shopman said.
I hope we win, I think we can but that’s life and it might not happen. India have been placed in Pool A of the Asian Games along with South Korea, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore while Japan, China, Thailand, Kazakhstan and Indonesia have been placed in Pool B. After starting the campaign against Singapore on September 27, India will face Malaysia on September 29, South Korea on October 1 and Hong Kong on October 3.
Shopman, who won gold medals at the Olympics and World Cup as a player with the Netherlands, was the coach of the Indian women’s team that won a bronze medal at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. Last year, when the Indian team won the gold medal in the inaugural FIH Nations Cup, she was also guiding the team. Shopman, however, is not used to the pressure of the Asian Games and is eager to face the challenge. He said, “This is also my first time to participate in the Asian Games.
I try to emphasize that you can either go into every tournament believing that it is the most important one or believing that it is just another tournament. “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing in a tournament for the first time or the last time – what matters is that you’re here now and you’ve got to make the most of your opportunities and capitalize on them,” Shopman said. That’s what we try to do as a team. Shopman also defended the team selection for the Asian Games.
He said, “While selecting 18 players, we cannot choose only the players who have played the most matches. I try to look at the team and see what each person can bring and how they can complement each other. The coach said, “Some of the junior players have improved tremendously in the last few months and hence have become a part of the team.