I think age is funny… the only thing is if players want to give it a go – Max Caldas

Netherlands Head Coach Max Caldas has hit reset for the Tokyo Olympics as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

“Now that we have more time to train for Tokyo next year, I’m curious to see which players are going to make the difference at the Olympics,” he said during a Facebook Q&A session with hockeytoday.cc.

The Argentinian tactician, currently at home in Leiderdorp, is in touch with his players regularly through conference calls, but not all conversations are about hockey.

“We have a team conference every week and I have time to watch their club games. I give them feedback about their performances. However, these days it is about being there for them and talk about life and ask how they are doing. I think we need to act responsibly during this nightmare situation,” he said.

Caldas, 47, who guided the Oranje to the semi-finals at Rio 2016, hinted that the postponement of the Olympics will not alter his team selection.

“Last December, I sat with them (players) and told them (about their role for Tokyo Olympics). I always have a third person with me so that we communicate better. Most of the times, players are not surprised if they are not part of the team,” he said.

Eight of the Netherlands’ core group are in their thirties. Caldas hopes none of them is thinking about retirement with the Olympics pushed back by a year.

“I think age is a funny thing. If you look from the outside, above 30 might seem old. The only thing is whether the players want to have a go at it. I think they are all ready to give it a go, whether they are 18 or 35 if they are good enough and getting better they will get a go with me” he said.

Caldas, who guided the Dutch to the World Cup final in 2018, felt that there is a need for his team to spend more time on penalty corners.

“If you ask Mink (van der Weerden) or Jip (Jansenn), they will say it’s not enough. I think that is one department we need to work on.”

The former Argentina player also felt that the FIH Pro League should not spell oligarchy for the elite. He wants to see more lower-ranked teams competing in the tournament.

“The Pro League cannot be for just the privileged eight or nine teams. It should be for other teams as well. You cannot have just five or six teams at the top and leave out the rest of the world, because that’s not sustainable. It’s probably not easy to happen, but that’s what needs to happen,” Caldas said.

A World Cup and Olympic gold medal-winning coach with Netherlands’ women, Caldas touched upon aspects that could make international hockey more competitive.

“The biggest challenge for hockey is how you merge club and international hockey. It’s about bringing a system together for countries which have full-time programme for international teams with countries that take their club competitions seriously.

Also don’t change rules just for the sake of changing the rules.”

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