THE NAME of Marc Lammers in Holland is just about as famous as that of Kapil Dev in India. Lammers has been the national head coach of the Dutch women hockey team from 2000 to 2008 and took the Dutch team to Gold medal victory in the Beijing Olympics last year. He has also been the national head coach of Spain women hockey team. As a player, Lammers won five international caps for Holland and played for 16 years in the first division of the Netherlands.
At 40, Lammers is a world class hockey coach, who has achieved tremendous success. He is open to the idea of coming to India for coaching but he has some strict guidelines in place. Lammers was in New Delhi for the Global Sports Summit -Turf 2009 where Sportzpower's Sunil Narula spoke to him on a range of issues.
You have been extremely successful as a hockey coach. What has been the secret of your success?
Undoubtedly it has been a lot of hard work. But I have always believed in the theory of doing it together. Alone I cannot do it. The players have to be committed, focused, disciplined, fit and all that. The team of experts - (physio, trainer… the support staff) has to be very good, the partners (sponsors) have to support the team and the coach... they all have to work together to achieve success.
For the last twelve years you have coached women hockey teams (Spain and Holland). What has been your experience?
It has been wonderful. In my opinion women are more disciplined then men. Only you have to talk to them. Make sure that they talk among themselves, and not talk about themselves---but with themselves. When they decide to do something they can be very disciplined and committed to achieve it. I will give you an example. Whenever I ask the girls let’s go for a run but we will run on the right side of the building, they just do it. But if I tell the same thing to the men, they will ask why can’t we run on the left side. Even the girls midway through the run would talk among themselves why can’t we run on the left side. But they come back to the field after the run and never complain. Men are more individualistic. They want to do it alone. Women are much better at doing it as a team. But now I have done enough of coaching women. Now I want to coach a men’s team. It’s more difficult, but I want to do it.
Coming to Indian hockey, what do you think about Brasa as a coach?
Yes, he is a good coach. See when I went to Spain as the national head coach, I realised very fast that Spain will not change for me. It’s I who has got to change. Coaches have to realise that.
India was a superpower in men’s hockey. But everybody says that the advent of Astroturf brought about their downfall. Do you agree?
No, I do not agree. Artificial grass is just one of the things. You have to be surrounded by positive people. You should be playing more and more matches with teams like Australia, Holland and Germany. Coach the coaches. Even the coaches need coaching because they too have to improve, if your team has to improve. Your partners (sponsors) have to support them with money etc. Commitment, focus, fitness are other things.
But the sponsors here say that they will support the hockey team once it starts winning.
That is quite wrong. It is not the results that matter at the moment but the process. Partners can now help the team with small amounts but build the team and slowly it will become a big team. In say ten years. I always say if you can improve ten per cent in every aspect each year, in ten years the team will improve a 100 per cent. It has to be a gradual process. But if your team is doing the same thing that it was doing two years ago. I mean if they are practicing the same way they were practicing two years ago, then they will remain at the same place. Innovation is very important. They will resist the innovation. But they have to be given bigger challenges.
Are you willing to come to coach the Indian team?
Till 2012 I’m very busy with my commitments. I coach the coaches in the US, in Holland. I can coach the coaches here too. I can also come here as the coach. But I have to have everything in place beforehand - artificial grass, best support staff, full support - otherwise I do not go anywhere.
The Holland women team won the Silver in Athens Olympics. But I asked them what they want next. They said they wanted to win Gold at Beijing. It was important for them. From 2000 to 2008 (eight years he was with the Dutch team) these players practiced every day (training nine times a week) before they won the Gold at Beijing.
So, there is a lot of hard work involved. When we got the Silver at Athens, I told myself that even I have to improve if the team has to win gold at the next Olympics. So I went for more coaching (the mental aspect) to see what I was doing wrong. Even I have my coach whom I consult. There were a few things that I was doing wrong and I needed to change them, which I did, and we got the result we wanted. So coaching the coaches is also very important.