The International Hockey Federation’s new rule concerning goalkeepers came into effect from January 1. But, it seems, there are not too many takers for it.
According to the modifications, teams have the option of either playing a regular goalkeeper — with complete or limited protective gear on — or taking the turf with only field players minus the goalkeeper. At the domestic level, though, it is up to the IHF to decide when it starts implementing the new rule.
However, both players and coaches seem reluctant to experiment too much with the new rules. Indian goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza, currently playing in the PHL in Chennai, feels teams would not really like to go in without a regular goalkeeper.
“I don’t think any team will try to play without the last wall of defence,” D’Souza said. “Plus, if a team plays a goalkeeper with limited protective gear, it could be very dangerous. The ball travels at over 100 mph and it is not possible to defend with just a stick.”
Spanish coach Maurits Hendriks too feels the options introduced are more suited for recreational hockey than to be considered for serious, international sport.
“I think it is a very good concept to be introduced, but it should be tried and used in the lower levels to make the game more exciting and fast. Things are different at the top and professional level.”
Hendriks added that he, personally, couldn’t see an international team playing without a goalkeeper, or fielding one with limited protective gear on. “As I see it, a lot of games are decided on penalty corners. And no team would like to play in such a situation without a regular goalkeeper. Even in regular play, it is not a very likely proposition.”
But Olympian MP Ganesh, a member of the Hockey Rules Board that decided on the changes, said the new rules would make the game more exciting. “I feel teams would definitely make use of the options.
“Suppose a team is trailing and desperate for a win, it could very well play with only field players. Teams that are confident of their scoring abilities would take the chance and go all out. It all depends on how the coaches plan their strategies,” he said.
The PHL, the first domestic event in the country this year, has resisted the urge to introduce the new rule in its ongoing edition underway in Chennai.