India beat Australia: Is it time to honour Sjoerd Marijne with Dronacharya award?
The Indian's women's team created history earlier today when they defeated Australia 1-0 to enter the semifinal of the ongoing 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The Rani Rampal led side which is ranked number 9 in the world knocked out the world number 2 and one of the biggest contenders for the gold in Tokyo, to make their way into the Olympic semifinal for the first time in history.
The last time the Indian women's hockey team competed in the Olympics, it was a complete disaster as they ended their campaign at the last position without a single win during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
The standard of Indian women's hockey has since gone up manifolds. Yes, they are still ranked a lowly ninth in the world but the performances have surely improved.
While players surely deserve all the credits for this rise of Indian women in the world of hockey, there is one man who has gone unnoticed – the coach of the Indian women's hockey team Sjoerd Marijne.
A Dutch national, Sjoerd Marijne first took over as the coach of the Indian women's hockey team a year after the Rio de Janeiro debacle in the year 2017. He was then shifted to the men's team later the same year, before returning full time to the women's side in 2018 after India's flop show at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast.
Sjoerd has since been with the national women's team of the country and has played a vital role in developing the sport in the country. Is it time to honour Sjoerd Marijne with the prestigious Dronacharya award for his contribution to Indian hockey?
Under his guidance the Indian women clinched the silver medal at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy in South Korea and backed it up with an Asian Games silver just a month later in Jakarta.
The next year was even better for India as they secured an Olympic berth for the second consecutive time in history.
The Tokyo Olympics was never going to be easy for Indian women. Though they had improved massively, they were way off the standards of the higher-ranked team. But nothing really matters at the Olympics, and the young Indian women have showcased just that over the past week.
Yes, there is still one more match to go for a medal to be assured in the sport, but the Indian women's hockey team's entry into the semifinal is not less than historic.
And the man who led guided them all the while, Sjoerd Marijne, was in tears at the North Pitch of the Oi Hockey Stadium as his wards made stormed into the Semi final.
For all his contribution to Indian hockey, the 47-year-old Dutchman surely deserves the Dronacharya Award – the highest honour bestowed upon sports coaches in India.