Pleasantly surprised to see the vast talent pool of hockey-playing youngsters in India, Jaypee Punjab Warriors skipper and Australia striker Jamie Dwyer cannot comprehend how the Bharat Chetri-led Indian hockey team finished with the wooden spoon at last year’s London Olympics.
Loads of talent
“I never expected that (last-place finish at the Games) from a team like India, who have always been good. They proved this at the recent Champions Trophy in Melbourne where they finished fourth. There’s so much talent here and that’s evident in the highly competitive Hockey India League,” Dwyer told MiD DAY recently.
The five-time FIH player of the year (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 & 2011) felt Indian hockey’s inconsistency is the problem. “India are very inconsistent. On one day, they can beat any team, but on another day, they can lose to any team too,” added Dwyer, who believed Indians are fortunate to be playing a sport that is loved by the masses, unlike their Australian counterparts.
“It’s great to see the passion for the game here because though we are world champions, unfortunately hockey is not popular back home. It’s nowhere near the top sports like Aussie rules football, rugby, cricket or soccer, who enjoy prime time TV coverage, unlike hockey. As a national player, I get very frustrated because we don’t work any less harder than the rugby or cricket players of the country, but the money we make is nowhere even close to what they do. Most hockey players have to undertake regular jobs because only playing hockey is not good enough,” explained Dwyer, who claims to be one of the fortunate few to gain commercially from the game as a coach, besides owning a couple of more businesses and a restaurant.
JPW’s bad start
Speaking of Punjab’s three defeats, one win and one draw in the HIL this far, Dwyer admitted they began on the wrong foot. “We conceded three own-goals in our first three matches and lost. Our forwardline didn’t click either. But, hopefully the win against Mumbai (Magicians), where we scored four goals (4-2) should turn things around for us,” he hoped.
Dwyer is no stranger to India, having been here numerous times before — 2005 Champions Trophy in Chennai, 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, 2010 FIH World Cup in Delhi — being some of his prominent assignments. He loves Indian food, enjoys Indian music and has even watched a Hindi film. “I watched my first Hindi movie on TV here. It had English subtitles, and was quite good. I’ve heard Indian music too, it’s cool. But above all else, I love Indian food — masala dosa, butter chicken, nan bread and almost all Indian vegetable preparations. I love the spicy fare here,” he signed off.
Yesterday @ HIL
Punjab Warriors 2 (Shivendra Singh, Malak Singh) drew with
Uttar Pradesh Wizards 2 (V Raghunath 2)