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'India is extremely difficult for women': Janneke Schopman opens up about gender disparity

Janneke Schopman, the first female coach of the Indian women's hockey team, addressed the gender disparities she encountered in India, shedding light on the struggles faced by women in sports leadership roles.

Indian womens hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman (Source- Female coaching network)

Indian women's hockey team chief coach Janneke Schopman (Source- Female coaching network)


The Bridge Desk

Updated: 19 Feb 2024 10:15 AM GMT

Janneke Schopman, the trailblazing first female coach of the Indian women's hockey team, revealed the immense challenges she has faced during her tenure.

On Sunday, after the match against the USA in the FIH Pro League, Schopman expressed her frustration with the day-to-day obstacles she encountered as a woman in her role, shedding light on systemic gender disparities within the sport in India.

The Olympic gold medallist with the Netherlands didn't mince her words as she described feeling isolated and undervalued by her employers at Hockey India.

Speaking to Indian Express about her experiences as the coach of the Indian women's team over the past two-and-a-half years, Schopman disclosed, "I felt alone a lot in the last two years," citing a lack of recognition and respect for her contributions.

Schopman's criticism extended beyond her personal experiences to encompass broader issues of gender inequality within the Indian hockey establishment. She lamented the stark contrast in treatment between the men's and women's teams, highlighting the disparity in resources, support, and recognition.

“I look at the difference at how men’s coaches are treated, between me and the men’s coach, or the girls and the men’s team, just in general," said Schopman, noting that India is an 'extremely difficult' country for women.

"The women players never complain and they work so hard. I shouldn’t speak for them so I won’t. I love them. I think they work so hard, they do what I ask, they wanna learn, wanna do new things. But for me personally, coming from the Netherlands, having worked in the USA, this country is extremely difficult as a woman, coming from a culture where you can have an opinion and it’s valued," she remarked.

Schopman's decision to speak out on such a sensitive topic underscores her commitment to fostering positive change within the Indian hockey community. Despite the uphill battle she has faced, Schopman remains resolute in her dedication to the team, expressing admiration for the players' resilience and work ethics.

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