Mumbai, Jan 8 () When a galaxy of hockey stars has descended on Bhubaneswar and Rourkela for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup, can the top coaches be left behind? Not at all!
Meet the head coaches: These men come with a world of experience behind them.
The motley of coaches that will be coaching the 16 participating countries in the World Cup are a diverse group, some with remarkable experience of coaching international teams, while others have only worked in their own country, training and guiding domestic teams.
Some of them have successful careers as players winning Olympic and World Cup medals while others are still awaiting their first medal, hoping that they would succeed in achieving their dream at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Hockey World Cup 2023.
The list includes the much-travelled Colin Bach of Australia, Graham Reid of India, Michel Van Den Heuvel of Belgium, Jeroen Delmee of the Netherlands, Max Caldas, who will coach Spain, Greg Nicol of New Zealand and Paul Revington.
Mariano Ronconi of Argentina, Andre Henning of Germany, Jorge Dabanch of Chile, France’s Frederic Soyez, Akira Takahashi of Japan, Kyo Shin Seok of South Korea, Arul Anthoni of Malaysia, Cheslyn Gie of South Africa and Daniel Newcombe of Wales are the other head coaches training their respective teams for the World Cup.
The most anticipated hockey faceoff will start on January 13 and end on January 29 – the day one of the 16 participating teams will be crowned as the World Champion, ensuring a place in history for the head coach as well.
Will it be Colin Bach of Australia, who has won the World Cup as a player, or the India coach Graham Reid, who won the the 1992 Olympic silver and World Cup bronze playing for native Australia, or Max Caldas, the former Argentina player who has bagged multiple Olympic and World Cup medals as coach of the Dutch Women’s hockey team, and is now guiding Spain’s men’s team?
Or will it be a first-timer like Jeroen Delmee of Netherlands or Andre Henning of Germany, or even Mariano Ronconi of Argentina? The answer will be out only on January 29.
Here’s a look at head coaches from the top five title contenders:
Colin Bach (Australia): The former Australia player has won the World Cup and four Champions Trophy titles as a player. As a coach with vast experience, Bach played a key role in Belgium’s emergence as the most feared team in World hockey, having coached the Red Lions from 2010 to 2014.
The 64-year-old was also the assistant coach of Australia during its most successful period under Barry Dancer when they won their maiden Olympic gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics, bronze at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, silver at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, gold in the 2002 and 2006 Commonwealth Games and gold in the 2005 and 2008 Champions Trophies. Bach has also coached New Zealand and now turned to his native country.
Graham Reid (India): The two-time winner of the FIH Men’s Coach of the Year award, Reid helped the Indian men’s team bag bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympic Games, ending a four-decade-old drought.
He must now be hoping to script more history by guiding India to its first World Cup medal since it won the title in the 1975 World Cup in Malaysia. Reid, who helped India to the Commonwealth Games silver medal in Birmingham, has won a silver medal with Australia in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Michel Van Den Heuvel: The Dutch coach took over Belgium soon after Shane McLeod, who coached them to gold medal in the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar and gold at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Fitting to those successful shoes will be no mean achievement but van den Heuvel is quite experienced as a successful coach in the Dutch league.
Though van den Heuvel does not have the experience of coaching the top men’s teams, the Belgian team is very experienced and may not be so impacted by his absence.
Max Caldas (Spain): Though Spain is not considered the top contender for the title, Maximiliano (Max) Caldas comes with the vast experience of coaching the Dutch women’s team.
The 49-year-old Argentine coach Caldas was the assistant coach of the Dutch women’s national, team which became world champion in 2006 and captured the gold medal at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.
In 2010, Caldas took charge as the Dutch women’s national team coach. At the 2012 Olympics, he struck gold as coach with the Dutch women’s. They also grabbed the gold at the first edition of the Hockey World League in 2013. In June 2014 he won his third gold with the Dutch women at the Hockey World Cup in The Hague. He later took charge of the Dutch men’s hockey team before being hired by Spain.
Jeroen Delmee (Netherlands): As a player, he won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in 1996 and 2000 Games. After retiring as a player, he took over as coach of Dutch field hockey club’s head coach of Tilburg and head coach of the France men’s national team (2017-2021). He started as the head coach of the Netherlands men’s national team in September 2021.
Delmer may not be as experienced a coach as the rest, but he has a very strong side with notable players such as Bjien Koen, Primin Blaak and Jasper Brinkma.