Van Ass named men's hockey team coach, Thornton for women team

Former Dutch national team coach Paul van Ass was named as the new head coach of India's men's hockey team, ending three months of uncertainly after Australian Terry Walsh quit under controversial circumstances

New Delhi: Former Dutch national coach Paul van Ass and Anthony Thornton of New Zealand were Friday named the new coaches of the Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams, respectively.

The names were finalised at a special selection committee meeting headed by secretary sports Ajit Sharan, Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra, high performance director Roelant Oltmans, Olympian Harbinder Singh among other Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials.

The committee considered three names -- van Ass, Hans Streeder of the Netherlands and Alexander Grey of Australia -- for the position of men’s coach while Thornton, Canadian Mathias Ahrens and Fabian Gregory of South Africa were in contention for the women’s team.

According to sources privy to the development, both Van Ass and Thornton have been awarded a three-year contract till 2018. India will host the 2018 men's Hockey World Cup.

It has been learnt that both Van Ass and Thornton will get a pay cheque similar to their predecessors, Walsh and Hawgood.

While Van Ass is expected to join his new assignment within three to four weeks time, Thornton will need some more time to report to his new job as he has to give 30 days notice to his current employers.

Sources said Thornton is most likely to join the women's team only after the Women's FIH World League Round 2 to be held here from March 7 to 15.

As coach, Van Ass led the Netherlands to a silver at the 2012 London Olympics after being given the job of rebuilding the team in 2010. He also served as the head coach of the Dutch Under-21 team.

Thornton has been working with the New South Wales Institute of Sports in Australia for four years and has also worked with the Australian U-21 men’s team as their head coach.

The former New Zealand star, now 47, represented his national side in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“The most important criteria for selecting the two individuals was based on whether they are capable of taking Indian hockey forward. The national team has been performing well for the last few years and with the men’s team already qualified for the Rio Olympics, we are keen that the development process not just continues further but gathers pace in the next few months,” Sharan said.

“The sports ministry has already approved the proposal to appoint the two coaches and the paperwork is being processed with both of them.”

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