Pakistan’s hockey coach, Dutchman Siegfried Aikman joins Ramzan fast | Hockey news

NEW DELHI: Foreigners coaching sports teams on the subcontinent are not a new phenomenon. However, the Dutch Siegfried Aikman is doing is perhaps something completely new.
Aikman, who acclimatized to his surroundings in his role as coach of the Pakistan men’s hockey team, decided to join the players in something very important to them.
It is the month of Ramzan that leads up to Eid al-Fitr in less than 30 days. In the middle of the month-long fast during the day, meals can only be eaten before and after sunset. Members of the Islamic community, including top athletes, follow the Ramzan rituals, which can be a very difficult thing to do along with training for high-performance sports.
Schedules can be at stake, diet plans require a break, and exercise programs need to be redrawn.
This is Aikman’s first such experience. When the Pakistani players were given a break from the national camp to be with their families on the first day of Ramzan, Aikman made a decision: he also started fasting.

“It was something I thought about because this is an opportunity to experience what the players are experiencing,” Aikman said in an interview with from Pakistan.
While this decision by Aikman has warmed Pakistani hearts, it presents another set of challenges for him in his role as the team’s coach.
The Dutchman revised the training plan to incorporate Ramzan-related demands as he took a break to respond’s questions.
“Was planning the camp, how to make a schedule for the training. I read a paper written by one of our FIH coaches about Ramzan and high-performance hockey, and he suggested that we should train in the evening so the players can have three meals a night and mainly sleeping during the day, “said Aikman, who was the head coach of the Japanese men’s team before accepting an offer from the Pakistan Hockey Federation at the end of last year.
“I thought, well, let me experience what they’re experiencing, because that’s the best way to understand what’s going on. That’s why I decided to give it a try,” Aikman said.

Aikman embedding

(Twitter image)
The Pakistani team is preparing for the very important Asia Cup to be held in Indonesia at the end of May. A top-4 ranking there will secure qualification for the 2023 World Cup in India.
It is Pakistani hockey’s immediate priority, after major setbacks by missing out on Olympic qualification and slipping down to 18th place in the International Hockey Federation (FIH) rankings for men’s teams.
Aikman, known for being very methodical in his approach, also prepared seriously for the fasting challenge.
“I got the Ramzan schedule … what is the latest time you can eat in the morning and from when you can start eating in the evening,” he said.
Breaking the Ramzan fast in the evening is known as ‘Iftar’.


(Aikman with the Pakistani players – Photo: TOI event)
On the first day of Ramzan, Aikman woke up at. 03.30 and ate everything he wanted at. 04.25 before going to bed again.
“I try to sleep a little extra in the morning so the first (few) hours go by,” he said.
“During the day, I start counting the remaining hours (before he can eat again) because I get hungrier and hungrier. I was not thirsty,” the 62-year-old said in a conversation with
He broke his fast over the weekend when he saw Indian men take on England in the FIH Pro League.
“In the afternoon I got a slight headache, which maybe was due to dehydration or hunger, I do not know. But it was not because I was really hungry … I ate my real dinner at 8 or 8:30 and then the battle between India and England at the time I ate, “he further recounted his first fasting experience.

But continuing with that eating routine for a month is not something Aikman is sure of.
“It felt good. I’ve made the decision to continue fasting for about a week. Then I want a better picture (whether I can continue or not). I just want to see how it goes,” he said, before he reported from saying, “It’s something I do from my heart.”


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