India's new hockey coach Paul van Ass takes charge

New Delhi: The Netherlands' Paul van Ass today took charge as Indian men's hockey team's chief coach as the eight-time Olympic champions underwent their first practice session under the Dutchman at the Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium here.

Paul van Ass
Paul van Ass 

Van Ass officially joined his new job yesterday but the 54-year-old Dutchman took charge of the team yesterday, supervising a two-hour long practice session of 30 players held in preparation for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup to be held in Ipoh, Malaysia from April 5-12. According to a team official, Van Ass was officially introduced to the players during breakfast this morning.

"It was a light intensity training today as it was Paul's (van Ass) first outing with the players. Today, he was focused on observing all the players and getting a fair bit of idea about their strengths and weaknesses," the official told PTI. "In his first training session, Paul's emphasis was more on the technical aspect of the game. The players also underwent drills on scoring goals."

Apart from Van Ass, coaches Jude Felix and Sandeep Sangwan and Indian hockey's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans were also present during the training session. Van Ass, known for his outspoken and controversial nature, had replaced Australian Terry Walsh under whom India won the Incheon Asian Games to qualify for the 2016 Rio

Van Ass had been handed a contract till the 2018 World Cup by his new employer, the Sports Authority of India. As a player, Van Ass had limited international experience but as a coach he led the Netherlands men's team to an Olympic silver medal in the 2012 London Olympics after being given the charge of the Dutch team in 2010. He also served as the head coach of the Dutch Under-21 team.

Van Ass never played international hockey for the Netherlands but his rapid rise as a coach made him one of the best in the business. At the club level, Van Ass not just resurrected the fortunes of the Dutch Club HC Gazellen-Combinatie, he even took them to the Euro Hockey League final in 2007.

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