India’s former national hockey coach, Cedric D’Souza, had drawn everyone’s attention in Austria even in 2013, after a three-year stint with domestic club, SV Arminen. During that period, he not only produced about a dozen players for the national team, but guided the club to their first national title for 15 years.
That was the start of his journey with the Austria team and he was assured of a chance to work with it if a vacancy arose. The promise was finally fulfilled during the Hockey World League last year when Austrian hockey officials met him in Antwerp and asked him to take over the national team.
- Austria finished sixth in European Junior National Championship
- Junior Hockey World Cup will be held in Lucknow
- Cedric D’Souza took over the coaching role of Austria team in 2015
“I didn’t refuse as I was waiting for such an opportunity where I could work with a new force. It was quite a challenging task for me, but I am enjoying it,” Cedric, the Austria chief coach at the Junior Men’s Hockey World Cup here, told HT on Tuesday.
“It’s a dream start for me as after only two days off after the Austrian national league on October 29, we started training. So far we have played 15 matches to get ready for the mega event,” he said. “We know our strengths and weaknesses and we are ready to challenge everyone here.”
Austria, who finished sixth at the European Junior National Championship to qualify for their World Cup debut, are clubbed with former champions Australia, Argentina and Korea in Group A in the 16-nation tournament starting on Thursday.
“In Austria, there is a club culture in hockey and clubs have full control over the players. We get them only periodically in terms of national camps. I picked all the boys after watching them play for their clubs.
“For all of us, it is hockey only for the last five weeks as matches against Bangladesh, England and even Germany before playing a few practice games here have given us extra confidence. The purpose was to get the players out of their comfort levels and know what world hockey really is.” said Cedric.
“We have qualified for the World Cup and that itself is a big thing. Our focus is on qualifying for the 2020 Olympics, and I know many of my junior boys would be pushing the senior boys out of the side.”
Three squad members play in the second-rung of the German League, while many seniors too play outside Austria, and this exposure should benefit the national team.
“I am sure our juniors would be challenging others here. In the last two months, the level of their playing has improved a lot,” added D’Souza.