Sports


Kurtz to bring European flair to Oman hockey


Newly appointed Oman national hockey coach Oliver Kurtz, right, of Germany is happy with the players’ condition and is confident of moulding the team. Kurtz, a German Olympian, spoke to Times Sport in presence of OHA general secretary Redha Taqi Al Lawati. – Jun Estrada / imes of Oman

Muscat: Newly appointed Oman hockey coach Oliver Kurtz said he is satisfied with the team's preparations, ahead of round two of the FIH World Hockey League (WHL), which will be played in New Delhi from February 18-24.

Speaking exclusively to Times Sport, yesterday, in his first interaction with the local media, the German said he is "happy" with the overall outlook.

"I have been with the players ever since I came here last week, and I had a wonderful time with them at the camp. Overall, I am happy with the squad. The players are in good shape, and that is great," he affirmed.

Kurtz, a former player who won the gold medal for the German national team at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, has been appointed as the Oman coach on an interim basis.

"That will give me the space to know exactly what I want. So far, I have good working relations with the Oman Hockey Association (OHA) and am extremely happy with that," stated Kurtz, who was the former coach of the Bangladesh national team and the assistant coach of the Indian team.

The Oman team has not had a full-time coach since December last year, when the OHA hastily terminated its contract with the then-national coach K.K. Poonacha. However, late last year, the OHA swiftly appointed Poonacha as the interim coach for the national team's campaign for the Asian Champions Trophy in Doha.

Kurtz is expected to sign a six-month contract with OHA, running from March until August. Kurtz pointed out that he is planning to teach the Omani players European techniques rather than the Asian method they currently follow.

"I don't want to teach them all aspects of the European methods because it could hamper their game skills," Kurtz explained.

"It requires a lot of time to learn them fully, and I am sure the players will be slowly transformed by those methods. When I was assisting Gerhard Rach (former Indian head coach) in 2004, we tried to introduce the Indian players to the European methods. It took them some time to follow those methods. Now, look at the heights India has reached today. I want Oman to reach that level of hockey," Kurtz added.

Meanwhile, Redha Taqi Al Lawati, OHA's general secretary, expressed confidence in
the German.

"I am confident about Kurtz. He has done exceptionally well as a player for Germany and also as a coach. I am sure he will do well for our side. We hope the team will do well in the WHL, and we will certainly continue a long association with Kurtz," he remarked.
OHA, according to Redha, will open 16 sports centres across the country in the coming months.

"As part of this initiative, we will open two immediate centres in Nizwa and Bahla, and then we will have five centres in the southern part of the country before opening more in Muscat," he explained. These sports centres will operate in government schools. "To have these sports centres in schools will certainly promote the game. It will help develop the game at the grassroots level. We want to have them in private schools too. Talks are already ongoing on this matter," he noted.

OHA also has plans to start a "Private League" for participants from the expatriate community, private schools, and private companies. "This will certainly add value to the sport. We are planning to start (the League) this year," Redha added.

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