Maximising speed, limiting injuries key focus ahead of hockey World Cup: Coach Schopman

Bengaluru, April 29 (IANS) Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman hopes the FIH Pro League matches against some top teams in the world would have given her team the ideal platform “to raise the bar” ahead of the World Cup beginning in Terrassa (Spain) and Amstelveen (Netherlands) on July 1.

As the countdown begins for the fortnight-long Women’s World Cup, there’s a lot of anticipation and hope to see the Indian women’s team fly high in the quadrennial tournament, especially after its heroics at the Tokyo Olympics where it finished a historic fourth.

“Playing top teams in these (Pro League) home games, we were mostly focused on ourselves. But more than the outcome of the matches, I am satisfied with how the team has played and I believe we are headed in the right direction,” Janneke said on Friday.

The Indian women’s team, led by goalkeeping stalwart Savita, has ended the home games as table toppers in their maiden Pro League campaign.

Talking about the team’s preparations in the forthcoming weeks ahead of the remaining Pro League matches in Europe and the World Cup, Janneke said, “For the next five to six weeks, we will be in Bengaluru, in our own environment and we will train towards a common goal of doing well in the Pro League and the World Cup.

“Our focus will be on building our physical robustness. We will work on maximising our speed in the game. We also want to limit the risk of injury as we will be playing back-to-back Pro League and World Cup matches.”

Speaking about their opponents in Pool B, in which India are grouped with England, China and New Zealand, Janneke said, “We have played England a few times and we are familiar with their game and the team has played China quite a lot too but because of the pandemic, we have not seen New Zealand play in the last two years, and from what I have read about them, there are a few retirements in their team and a few players are injured. But having said that, ours is a pool where anyone can beat anyone on a good day and we just need to make sure we start well.”