It’s a new professional ‘high’ for former Indian men’s hockey team goalkeeper Jude Menezes. The 51-year-old who had migrated to New Zealand in 2002 after calling time on his international career, has made his presence felt in various coaching roles in New Zealand – the most significant being serving as Assistant Coach of New Zealand women’s hockey team coach at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Menezes, who represented India at the 2000 Sydney Olympics as well as in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, is now excited about taking charge as Head Coach of Japan’s women’s hockey team. The upcoming Asian Champions Trophy that will be held in Donghae, South Korea from December 5-12 will be his first international assignment with Japan’s women’s hockey team. “I’m extremely excited to be given the privilege to coach Sakura Japan women’s hockey team. The immediate focus is to get to Japan to prepare for the Asian Champions Trophy. I believe the team possesses huge potential and can be a force to reckon with in world hockey,” he says in an exclusive chat with Hockey Passion from Auckland.
The former India shot-stopper believes the upcoming Asian Champions Trophy will give him a fair idea of what roadmap he can lay for Japan’s women’s hockey team. “The Asian Champions Trophy will give me a good insight into areas that we would need to prioritise, going forward. It will also provide me with an opportunity to build good connections with both athletes and staff,” he quips.
The former Indian goalkeeper, who hails from Mumbai, is aware of the family sacrifices he is making to take up this role. “Of course, I will miss my family in NZ, but I’m looking forward to this fantastic opportunity to work and grow a great group of talented athletes in Sakura Japan to collectively perform on the world stage.”