New Delhi: The upcoming World Series Hockey is a great initiative as it will help past masters of the game, India, return to the pinnacle of the sport once again, feels former Dutch coach Roelant Oltmans.
Oltmans, regarded as the world`s most successful hockey coach because of his exploits with the Dutch men and women`s team, said the world body (FIH) has no right to derail the league, which will only help in the development of the game.
"It`s a fantastic event. It will definitely benefit hockey in India and a long-term step to promote the game. The league should help India to return to the top level because it will benefit the top players as much as provide opportunity to the youngsters to play at the big stage," the Dutchman said.
"The foreign players see a great opportunity in the league and also want to have a fantastic experience of playing in India. They would love to contribute to Indian hockey and growth of its players. Of course, this is a great initiative and there is no reason (for FIH) to stop it," Oltmans added.
Oltmans`s career spans over two decades during which he c ached the Dutch men`s and women`s team to World Cup titles and guided the men`s team to Olympic glory as well.
He, however, is concerned about the marketing of the game and feels unless events like WSH takes place, hockey will continue to remain in the back seat.
"Initiatives like WSH will definitely help in making the game more popular. Marketing is the key word for hockey if you compare it with other sports. If there are only a couple of countries at the top level then people will lose interest in the game," said Oltmans, who is the coach of Delhi Wizards in the WSH.
Asked about eight-time champion, India`s chances in the ongoing Olympic Qualifiers and this year`s London Games, if they manage to qualify, Oltmans said, "It`s rather difficult to say after watching a few matches and that too against Singapore and Italy.
"There is, of course, good skill and there are lot many younger players in the team. Compared to earlier times, one can see they are playing more upfront and attacking more. But if you see their performance in the Champions Challenge earlier, there needs to be more improvement in the defence."
"India should first aim to qualify and then plan for the next level. Playing against Australia, Germany, Holland, Spain, Korea and England will be a different ballgame. They still have five months left and I`m sure they have the capacity in the longer term to be there," he added.
Oltmans rated Germany, Holland and Australia as the favourites and tipped one of the three to win the gold medal in the London Olympics.
"I feel Germany, Holland and Australia are the leading contenders and the outsiders would be Spain, England and Korea," he said.