FIH Star Awards: India women’s team coach Janneke Schopman, men’s coach Graham Reid named Coaches of the Year

Coaches of Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams, Janneke Schopman of Netherlands and Graham Reid of Australia, have been voted the FIH Coaches of the Year 2021-22 in the women’s team and men’s team categories respectively.

Schopman emulated her predecessor Sjoerd Marine as Coach of the Year. She received a total of 38.2 per cent votes with Jamilon Mulders, the head coach of the all-conquering Dutch women’s team, finishing second with 28.2 per cent of the votes cast. Schopman lost out to Mulders (14.6 per cent to 10.9 per cent) but overtook her based on fan votes (10.8 per cent to 3.9 per cent) and media support (9.5 per cent to 3.4 per cent).

Reid topped the voting with 31.4 per cent votes, finishing ahead of Jeroen Delmee, head coach of the Netherlands team. He trailed Delmee 14.5 to 10.9 on expert votes, which carried 40 per cent of weightage. He got 5.4 per cent of the fan votes as compared to 3.6 for Delmee but overtook him with 8.2 per cent media votes as compared to 3.5 for the Dutch coach.

The two coaches getting the Coach of the Year awards again point to the progress the Indian men’s and women’s teams have made in the last couple of years.

After India’s remarkable run in the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2021, where they missed out on a bronze medal by a whisker, the tough task of replicating similar success fell to Janneke Schopman. The Dutch coach had already been a part of the Indian setup, having joined the team as an analytical coach in January 2020, but the step-up to the head coach role would shine a spotlight like never before.

To make Janneke’s job more complicated, India’s talismanic player, Rani Rampal, spent most of the 2021-22 season injured, missing out on major events including most of the FIH Hockey Pro League and the entirety of the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup and the Commonwealth Games. However, a big role in Schopman’s success came from her ability to develop a squad that was greater than the sum of its parts. Her tenure so far has seen many players come into prominence, carrying out specific tasks that they excel at.

The Indian team finished third in the FIH Hockey Pro League in the 2021-22 season with wins over Germany, Netherlands, Spain and eventual champions Argentina (in a shoot-out).

The most impressive aspect of their game was their ability to defend when needed and turn up the pressure on the opponent’s goal when they saw an opportunity. The shoot-out win over Argentina was especially impressive, as India largely dominated the game against a team who had only dropped 6 points in total, throughout the season, the FIH said in a release.

The Indian team had a poor outing in the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup Spain and Netherlands 2022 as they struggled to score goals in the event despite dominating most of their matches, and had to settle for a 9th-place finish.

Just 10 days after finishing their World Cup games, India participated in the Commonwealth Games and bagged a bronze medal. India’s persistence finally paid off as they started making their positive play count towards goals and ended their campaign finishing on the podium for the first time in 16 years, defeating New Zealand in the Bronze medal match in a shoot-out.

Reid too had an eventful year.

Ever since he took over as the head coach of the Indian men’s hockey team in April 2019, Reid has been instrumental in the rapid improvement of the Indian hockey team that has always been considered a thrilling team to watch, but by its own lofty standards, suffered a long medal drought at major competitions.

Under Reid, India has reached many new highs in its recent history, which includes winning its first Olympic medal (bronze) at the Tokyo Games in 2021, after a gap of 41 years. India also won the silver medal at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games, climbing back onto the podium after missing out in the previous edition of the games in 2018 at Gold Coast, Australia.

India played its first full season of the FIH Hockey Pro League in 2021-22, and earned a well-deserved place on the podium, finishing in the third position behind Netherlands and Belgium. Reid’s team managed to score 62 goals across their campaign, which is the highest tally of goals scored by a team, not just in this season, but in the history of the Pro League.

It is a huge testament to the massive talent pool Reid has helped develop for India and the trust he places in them, that a total of 36 players represented the Indian team in season 3 of the FIH Hockey Pro League. Reid also was the coach of the Indian men’s hockey team that won the inaugural FIH Hockey5s Lausanne 2022, winning every single game along the way.

As India looks to usher in a new era of sustained success in Hockey, the sport which has brought about its greatest success (8 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze medals) at the Olympic Games, Reid remains a central figure in the process with his ability to get the best out of all the players in his squad, while also aiding in the development of the future generations, the FIH said in a release.

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