Indian women's ice hockey coach Janneke Schopman resigns | Hockey News

KOLKATA: Janneke Scopman resigned as India women's hockey coach on Friday evening, just days after she said she was not “respected and valued” by Hockey India as a woman and that the federation had given preferential treatment to the Indian men's team.

Schopman had made these statements after India's Pro League match against the USA at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, which they won on penalties. According to a press release, the Dutchwoman submitted her resignation to HI President Dilip Tirkey after this game, the last home game in the Pro League this season.

Schopman first joined the Indian women's team as an analytical coach ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, where they finished a historic fourth place, and then took over the team after Sjoerd Marijne stepped down. There were hopes that she would usher in a new era in women's hockey, and she was given a contract through the Paris Olympics. But after failing to help the team get to Paris, Schopman's future became tense and it was only a matter of time before departure was inevitable.

Despite this low, the team continued to develop under the Dutchwoman over two and a half years and brought a number of young players into the team. However, she didn't have much to show for medals, although the exclusion of Rani Rampal from the team didn't go down well with everyone. The team failed to impress at the 2022 World Cup and only took bronze at the Commonwealth Games that same year.

The team won the Nations Cup in Spain towards the end of 2022, earning them re-entry into the Pro League, and it seemed like the team was finally getting back on track. But failing to reach the top of the podium at the Asian Games was a major setback for Schopman.

There were also calls for her removal, but Tirkey supported her and she continued. What followed was the team winning the Asian Champions Trophy in Ranchi and seemed all set for Olympic qualification.

However, the dream remained unfulfilled as Schopman failed to help the team to a place among the top three teams at the Olympic qualifiers in Ranchi earlier this year. Although the eight home games in the Pro League gave her the chance to prove herself again, there wasn't much to show other than the win against Australia.

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“Her resignation has paved the way for Hockey India to search for a suitable head coach for the women's hockey team who could prepare the Indian team for the next Women's World Cup in 2026 and the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028,” the press release said further.

Hopefully HI can hire a new coach before the Pro League games in Europe in May. It won't be an easy task with the Olympics just around the corner. Whatever the future holds, one can't help but feel sympathy for the players who not only missed out on a trip to Paris, but also have an uncertain future ahead of them at the moment.

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