By all accounts, it’s a win-win situation for hosts India in the World Hockey League (WHL) Round 2 that starts here from February 18. At least, that’s the impression one got after witnessing the training sessions of rival teams on Wednesday.
Russia and Japan, two women’s teams that have arrived for the event, hinted that they did not get enough training sessions in the build-up to the international hockey federation (FIH) tournament.
“Due to severe weather conditions, we couldn’t train much. Hence, we went to Spain for a 10-day training session,” said Oxana, a member of the Russian team. It showed in their practice match on Wednesday as they lost tamely to India.
Even the Japanese girls faced a similar problem. Hostile weather, said Japanese team coach Yoo Seung Jin, robbed his team of vital training sessions.
In contrast, the Indian team has been camping for almost four months, which gives them a big advantage in the weeklong tournament that feature six teams. Since the opposition is quite weak, even chief coach Michael Nobbs is taking it easy. Only a handful of the 24 members named in the squad took part in Wednesday’s training session.
There was a setback for India as Rani, a key member of the India team, injured her right knee during practice and is doubtful for the tournament.
Meanwhile, Dutch expert Roelant Oltmans joined Hockey India as director (high performance). He, however, didn’t divulge details of his future plans.