Friday, January 11, 2013

India has the potential to be world-beaters, says celebrated Australian hockey striker Jamie Dwyer

This piece was published in Sportskeeda

Touted as one of the best hockey strikers in the world, Jamie Dwyer instils fear in the opposition. His goal-poaching knack has made him the man to watch out for on a hockey turf over the years. A veteran of three Olympics, three World Cups and eight Champions Trophy tournaments, Dwyer has played 286 internationals for the Kookaburras (nickname of the Australian men’s hockey team) and scored an impressive 182 goals.

The 33-year-old striker is training hard for Jaypee Punjab Warriors as they launch their campaign in the inaugural Hockey India League against Delhi Wave Riders at Delhi on Monday. Dwyer is excited to be part of the Hockey India League and hopes that the league would do a world of good to not just Indian hockey, but world hockey as well. “There is so much of excitement about the Hockey India League, not just in India but but also across the globe. People are talking about hockey on Facebook and Twitter - which just shows that HIL is generating a lot of buzz,” Dwyer said in an exclusive interview.

The five-time FIH World Player of the Year winner believes HIL will uplift Indian hockey. “HIL will definitely raise the profile of hockey in India. It will encourage many youngsters to take up hockey,” the celebrated striker said.

The Kookaburras striker is glad to see hockey players earn some good money from the league. “Hockey players don’t earn much like the cricketers the world over. I think HIL is a great opportunity for the players to earn some good money, they thoroughly deserve it,” Dwyer observed.

India’s creditable performance in the FIH 34th Champions Trophy in Melbourne came in for praise from Dwyer. “They are very skillful, they looked confident in the Champions Trophy. There was a lot of self-belief in the side,” he pointed out.

Dwyer, whose crucial extra time golden goal helped Australia to beat Netherlands and bag their first-ever hockey gold in Athens (2004), reckons the Indian team need to work on their consistency. “Consistency is one thing that has let India down. If they can improve on their consistency, I’m sure India will regularly reach the semifinals and finals of major tournaments like Olympics, World Cup and Champions Trophy.”

Australia, Germany and Netherlands are the hockey powerhouses in the world. Can India come anywhere close to them? “Definitely. India has immense potential and can be a world-beater in the years to come. They must play teams like Australia, Germany, Netherlands on a regular basis, which will lead to an improvement in their hockey,” he remarked.

Dwyer, who is nicknamed ‘Foetus’, called for the setting up of hockey academies across the country. “You need more hockey academies across the country. You need coaches to guide youngsters at different age levels with proper planning and training. These academies will be able to provide a strong supply line to the national team.”

Jaypee Punjab Warriors is being talked about as the team to beat in the HIL. How does he assess his team’s chances? “We are really looking forward to the league. We have got a good team, but that’s on paper, we got to deliver on the turf,” Dwyer wraps up the conversation on a realistic note as he is in a tearing hurry to hit the practice session.
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