Tripped up by red tape

Tripped up by red tape
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES: Women's national hockey coach Coen van Putten (far right), seen talking to his players at training last year, says the team's comeback after losing the 2013 SEA Games bronze play-off will be the best memory of his time in Singapore.

Less than five months before the 28th South-east Asia (SEA) Games kick off in Singapore, the women's national hockey team are set to lose their head coach.

Dutchman Coen van Putten, who has helmed the women's hockey programme since April 2013, will leave the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) at the end of the month.

Speaking to The New Paper, he said: "There isn't really a platform from which to develop a successful programme which allows you to excel at the SEA Games.

"I prefer to focus on coaching hockey and I found it quite hard to work with the bureaucratic decision-making at the SHF, which affects the training programme that I planned to put in place.

Van Putten claimed he had done all he could with the team, and that the "girls deserve a coach who is fully committed."

He joined the SHF in September 2012 as assistant to men's national coach Solomon Casoojee, and took charge of the women some seven months later.


While the women failed to win a medal at the 2013 SEA Games in Myanmar, van Putten has started a revival, qualifying from the World League Round 1 tournament in June last year.

"We've discussed this issue (of bureaucratic decision-making) with the management of the SHF, and haven't been able to find a solution.

"Leaving is totally my decision, and I'm grateful to the SHF for the opportunity to coach the national team," added van Putten, who will take a short break before considering other opportunities.

The SHF has appointed Sunil Prasad, Casoojee's assistant at the ongoing Men's World League Round 2 tournament at the Sengkang Stadium.

The former Malaysian international will take over the women's squad next week.

Responding to queries from TNP, SHF president, Mathavan Devadas, said: "We are aware that he has quite often wanted to do things in a particular way, but our funding comes from Sports Singapore, and how we spend it is quite regulated.

"There is a chain of approval to adhere to, and it was always going to be difficult for someone coming from outside the system and into Singapore, to adapt."

Mathavan believes in that respect, Sunil could have fared better.


"We wanted to keep (van Putten) until the end of the SEA Games, but he indicated that he wanted to leave, and we couldn't stop him," he said.

"Sunil is a very competent coach, with significant international exposure, he's been assisting the men's national team for about two years now.

"He is very familiar with our system and some of the girls, having coached them before.

"We are confident he will be able to do a good job."

Van Putten will take with him the good memories from his time in Singapore, the best of which came from defeat.

"The passion, desire and determination that I saw in the girls (after losing the bronze-medal match at the 2013 SEA Games 1-0 to Myanmar), was my best memory of the team, the way they bounced back stronger to qualify for World League 2 after that, it was really precious.

"It has been very challenging and also very rewarding, the girls have made good progress in terms of game-play, as well as in adopting the athlete lifestyle," said van Putten.

"I still believe in the potential of this group of players, and they should be able to do well at the SEA Games, if they really, really commit themselves."

This article was first published on January 20, 2015.
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