Harendra Singh reappointed as Coach of Indian Women’s Hockey Team

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Harendra Singh, a stalwart in the world of hockey, has returned as the head coach of the Indian women’s hockey team. This appointment comes after Janneke Schopman was sacked by Hockey India. Singh, who has previously served as the head coach for both the Indian men’s and women’s teams, is tasked with rebuilding the team amidst challenges and controversies.

Harendra Singh’s Impact on Indian Hockey

Singh’s career with Indian hockey began in 1997. Over the years, he has coached various Indian teams, including the senior men’s and women’s teams, for over two decades. His tenure has seen India win 11 gold medals, including the 2016 men’s junior World Cup, the 2017 Women’s Asia Cup, and the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy (men).

Despite these successes, Singh’s journey has not been without controversy. His exit from the Indian team was believed to be due to India’s performance at the Asian Games, where they won a bronze medal. However, his impact on the team was significant, and it is believed that his work laid the foundation for India’s current success.

In 2021, Singh moved to the USA to coach the men’s hockey team. Under his guidance, the USA women’s team defeated India on home turf to qualify for the Olympics. Despite this success, Singh always wanted to return to India to coach.

Now, Singh has returned to India to join the women’s camp. He has been involved in pruning the 60-member assessment squad to a core group of 33 during the trials held on April 6 and 7. He is also in the process of putting together a team of support staff after most of them left along with Schopman.

Singh’s appointment as the head coach of the Indian women’s hockey team is a significant development for Indian hockey. His extensive experience and passion for the sport make him an ideal choice for this role. His focus is on preparing the team for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.

However, Singh has a challenging job on hand. With the sword of Damocles hanging over his head — which is a norm in Indian hockey — he will have to rebuild the team from scratch. After finishing fourth at the Tokyo Olympics under Dutchman Sjoerd Marijne, the women’s team has courted controversy regularly. From seasoned star Rani Rampal being unceremoniously dumped from the squad to failing to qualify for the Paris Games, and Schopman leaving amidst allegations of not being treated fairly, women’s hockey has hit a new low.

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