Why Belgium has set an example for India
When it comes to top-class planning in hockey, nobody does it better than Belgium, says former Indian player V Bhaskaran.Updated: Dec 18, 2018 12:23 IST
There is so much to learn from the victory of Belgium in the 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup, especially for India. Whether it was the games that they played or their intent and planning over the years (since 2007) when they decided to become a hockey power and not just a participant, there was indeed a lot to learn. At the end, only one team was undefeated in the competition, and that was Belgium. Their only draw in the tournament was against India.
But that’s where the comparisons stop. Belgium have not only gone ahead of Europe, but they have also gone ahead of themselves and a team that could lose two of their top players and manage to win the World Cup! All this says a lot about their bench strength.
In the final against the Netherlands, Belgium didn’t use two rushers; in fact, they had three putting pressure on the flicker. They always came up with something innovative in their game strategies. And, that’s why their planning is ahead of that of most other nations. In Europe, results would always be close. But Spain, Netherlands, and Germany play a lot of hockey amongst themselves. Yet, the confidence that Belgium had for winning the World Cup was incredible. They are surely among the best teams now.
It’s been one of the best finals I have ever seen, and one can talk about all the planning that went on for days and still didn’t finish. But the quality of hockey was of the highest standard. Since the time I watched the World Hockey League Finals here, the Belgians have brought about some drastic changes in their game.
The learning part from Belgium has to be how they promote hockey and ensure that club hockey has been built. All their clubs compete at almost the same level. That’s why, virtually all the players in the national team seem to have the same potential – it’s a team that is not dependent on just a few players to create results. The final was an example of that. To win a World Cup, you have to win all matches and perform consistently well, and that’s what they did.
I hope India learns from Belgium, and promotes hockey at the grassroots level. India has many more players, and there has to be a reason why we are not performing at the same level. As I said earlier, we need to bring in the intent, and start planning for the next World Cup right away.
(This article has been authored by V Bhaskaran, the captain of the 1980 Moscow Olympic gold-medal winning team and a former hockey coach)