Miles away from family amid a global health crisis, the Indian women’s hockey team chief coach Sjoerd Marijne is keeping anxiety at bay by focusing on writing a book on his India experience during the coronavirus-forced lockdown period. The 45-year-old Dutchman, who is based in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, admitted that it is tough to be away from his wife and children — three daughters and a son — during the difficult time. “Like everyone else, I have my difficult moments, not being with my family. I try to keep myself as busy as possible. I am writing a book in the free time I have,” Marijne told PTI in an interview from SAI Centre in Bengaluru.
“I have been in India for three and half years and many interesting stuff happened which can be very helpful for coaches and in business life,” he said.
Marijne was on his way to the Netherlands just before the national lockdown but changed his mind and returned midway considering the well-being of his family and his team.
“I take it day-by-day and don’t look too much ahead. My family is doing well back home and handled the situation very well. A big admiration for my wife about how she is doing this. Not easy always with the children back home and no social life anymore. Without her (support), I couldn’t be here,” he said.
“It was tough (decision) but I also have a responsibility to the team and India.”
“When I decided to stay back, we were still able to do full training as nation-wide lockdown had not been announced. It’s good the entire core group is together so we can do other things to make this period productive.”
With the COVID-19 pandemic keeping all sporting events shut and the Indian women’s hockey side stuck in Bengaluru, Marijne is utilising the time to work on team bonding.
They are also working on their spoken English.
“I want to make sure that this time we have, is spent usefully so that once this is all over, we can look back at this period as a productive time spent,” he said.
Marijne said he knows he is not the only one going through hard times.
“The girls are also living by the day and do miss their families but they are also thinking of the future. They do a lot of workouts everyday to stay as fit as possible.”
“They have also been given tasks like analysing all the opponent countries and make a presentation to us (support staff). We also watch motivational movies like Mary Kom and Dangal,” he said.
“Some girls are learning English by themselves and we have individual video meetings with the players. We try to use the time as productively as possible,” added the Dutchman, who has also coached the Indian men’s team.
The Tokyo Olympics being pushed to 2021 because of the global pandemic will help his team’s cause, Marijne said.
“It was the best decision as you can read that the number of cases in Japan is also going up,” he added. “Every country will have one year extra to train, we have a young group so that can be a benefit for us.”
Talking about his plan after the lockdown ends, he said: “We will have a break and then will start with camps because the situation will not be that we can start immediately with tours.”