KARACHI: Pakistan’s newly-appointed foreign hockey coach Michel Van Den Heuvel on Monday entered into an altercation with the media on the first day of his assignment at the Hockey Club of Pakistan stadium.
The Dutchman, formerly coach of the Netherlands team, took charge of a training camp being held here to prepare the national team for a European tour ahead of the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games this year.
But not aware of the hockey culture in Pakistan, Heuvel initially refused to allow the media to cover the training session or speak to them and asked manager Manzoor Junior to call the police to remove the reporters from inside the ground.
But after a series of strong protests by the media contingent, Heuvel was convinced by the manager and other Pakistani officials at the stadium to review his earlier stance.
The move worked as Heuvel later came out and spoke to the media in which he made it clear that his first target was the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China.
“The assignment I have been given is to prepare a strong team capable of winning the 2012 London Olympics, but my own assessment is that we need to target winning the Asian Games in the first stage,” Heuvel said.
The new foreign coach also admitted that Pakistan hockey no longer possessed talents of yesteryears.
“In those days the Pakistani players were wizards now the talent level is down, so my job is to work with the players and bind them into a efficient, clinical and winning unit,” Heuvel said.
Pakistan hockey’s chief selector Hanif Khan surprised everyone when he informed that the government played a role in Heuvel’s appointment.
“As far as I know the government made it clear to the Pakistan Hockey Federation that they wanted a foreign coach for the team and that is why the sports ministry is paying his monthly salary,” Hanif said.
“I don’t think the PHF was directly interested in signing on a foreign coach. I hope he can deliver better results for us,” the former Olympian said.