The 38-year-old is working hard with the team and ironing out any flaws in the girls’ technique and overall skills at the ongoing Junior Women’s Core Probable Group camp at the Sports Authority of India centre in Bengaluru.
Khandker, who hails from Jhansi, was earlier a deputy of senior women’s team chief coach Janneke Schopman, before he was made the junior team coach last month by Hockey India. He has fairly good experience as a coach and aims to make an impact on his new role.
Khandker was Indian men’s team coach when the team won the Champions Trophy silver medal in London in 2016. He also accompanied the team as a coach when they won a gold medal at the Asian Champions Trophy, and a bronze at the World Hockey League.
Khandker was also part of the coaching staff of the senior women’s team at the 2021 Asian Champions Trophy and Asia Cup in 2022 where the team claimed a bronze and qualified for the World Cup.
Khandker took some time off from his busy schedule and spoke exclusively with the TOI.
Excerpts from an interview:
Q: You joined Junior Women’s Core Probable Group a few weeks ago at the SAI centre in Bengaluru. How has your experience been so far?
A: It has been great, we have so many talented players in the group. I am very happy and excited about it.
Q: With just over four months to go for the FIH Women’s Junior Hockey World Cup 2023, how do you see the preparations for the mega event?
A: As you know, recently I have joined and looking at the core group, we have so many brilliant players and my job is to bring them together and make a good team for the World Cup. Girls know about the level of the tournament and accordingly, they are getting ready for this.
Q: How do you rate India’s chances in the forthcoming major event?
A: As we know it’s a World Cup and every game in such an event is important, we have started our preparation and we will go match by match.
Q: You have done coaching jobs earlier with various teams. How do you see the new challenge especially when hockey in India is growing fast?
A: I am thankful to Hockey India and Sports Authority of India (SAI) that gave me this opportunity and to my employers BPCL who allowed me to be here with the team.
It is a challenging job, but it should be because we are representing the country and we will be participating in the World Cup. I request all the hockey lovers in the country to support the Indian Junior women’s hockey team and Indian hockey.
Q: According to you, what are the strengths and weaknesses of the Indian junior team?
A: That I can’t tell you like this, but we are working on both.