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Siegfried Aikman: The players failed. I failed (6/7/2019)
--s2h Team
“When you are at school, you learn and you give exam. If you fail, all the hard work you had put though was nothing. Today was the exam and we failed. The players failed. I failed,” sums Japan coach Siegfried Aikman, after Japan’s 3-0 win against Mexico.


It sounds harsh for a team which started off on a winning note, but this has been Japan coach Aikman’s style. He doesn’t count a victory until the players have put in the best effort on the field - as per the decided strategy.

“When you want to grow, you want to learn something. You will make mistakes and by eliminating the mistakes, you will grow and get better. This is a learning period before the Olympics. The players shouldn’t be afraid to learn, to try. I don’t mind if they make mistakes. I get angry, when they don’t try. Today, they didn’t try and that is why I am frustrated. The path to successful Olympics goes through a learning process,” he explains.

Japan faced Mexico in their first match, an opponent which they played for the first time, making it more difficult to understand their style of play.

“The problem is we didn’t find a single information about Mexico. I thought to find some information, but couldn’t. So, we went blank into the match. They did their homework well. So they were a success. I should see the win as a present, but at this moment I am angry,” says Aikman.

Aikman, who has its roots in India, successfully strategized Japan’s win in the Asian Games 2018, which helped them seal the Olympics spot.


Given his experience of both Asian and European hockey, he believes hockey today needs certain level of ‘abstract thinking’ and has a methodology devised to help his team understand it.

“There needs to be a certain level of intelligence and you have to be able to think in an abstract manner. Only then you will be able to make connections, which are not obvious. So, I encourage my players to play Japanese chess. When you play chess, then you are playing with strategy and are trying to get the opponents into trap.”

Aikman started this practice long back and has certain specific methods even while playing chess.

“When I first told the players to play chess, they were confused. Then I realised there is something called ‘Japanese chess’ and I asked them to play it. I make them play it on a mobile phone and not a chess board. That way, the use of mind is much more.

So, how did he devise such a plan?

“I read a lot about strategies – how general prepare for wars, how the Japanese strategized in the wars. These days, everyone is on mobile phone, so chess would be the best way to learn something. Competition always works. Players like to beat each other and competition keeps them alive,” he reveals.

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