Sjoerd Marijne quits as Indian women's hockey team coach

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The Indian women's hockey team's chief coach Sjoerd Marijne on Friday revealed that the bronze medal match against Great Britain at the Tokyo Olympics was his last assignment with the side.

The 47-year-old coached the Indian women's hockey team to its best ever performance in the Olympic Games, guiding them to a fourth-place finish.

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The Indian women came close to winning their maiden Olympic medal before losing to Great Britain 3-4 in the bronze play-off match. Hours after this feat, Marijne announced that it was his last assignment with the Indian team.

"I don't have any plans because this was my last match with Indian women. It's upto Janneka (Schopman) now," the Dutchman told the Indian media in a virtual press conference.

Ending his stint with Indian hockey on a high, Marijne asked Hockey India to organise more high-pressure games for the women's side on home soil as well as abroad to maintain continuity in its progress.

"...we have to do the same thing like what men did in the last 8 years, like Hockey India League if it's possible, participating in the Pro League, organising tournaments in India for the women. These kind of things will help," Marijne said.

"In the last 4-5 matches, we really had pressure and we have to learn to deal with pressure by playing consistently against top teams. That's what the girls need to take big steps." The outgoing coach feels the women's team should be treated at par with the men's outfit when it comes to exposure. While India have a domestic league for men, there has been no such initiative yet for women.

"They (men's team) have HIL, Pro League, tournaments in India and that is what we also need. They had these for 8-10 years and so they could climb up the ladder," Marijne said commenting on the bronze medal that the men's team won here on Thursday.

"The more you play against the top countries the rankings will improve. We showed that we can do without those things and it will be great for women if they can have the same things as the men," he explained.

It has been learnt that both Marijne and team's analytical coach Janneka Schopman were offered an extension by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) but the former refused the offer due to personal reasons. Sources in the know of developments told PTI that Schopman is expected to take over Marine's position on a full-time basis now.

Marijne, a former Dutch player, took over the reins of the Indian women's team first in 2017 but was appointed the coach of the men's side later that year.

However, in 2018, he was re-designated the women's coach in a rejigging of roles.

Marijne has played for The Netherlands, and guided the Dutch Under-21 women's side to a World Cup title and the Dutch senior women's side to a gold at the Hockey World League Semi Finals in 2015.

The affable Dutchman has been unable to visit his family for the last 16 months due to the COVID-19 related travel restrictions and this could well be a major reason behind his decision of quitting the India job