India revisited: Hockey legend Kruize nostalgic
Decades ago he had seen the same stands overflowing with people to watch hockey, and when Ties Kruize again heard the familiar roar of thousands egging their home team in the World Cup here, it struck a nostalgic chord with the Dutchman.india Updated: Mar 06, 2010 15:52 IST
Decades ago he had seen the same stands overflowing with people to watch hockey, and when Ties Kruize again heard the familiar roar of thousands egging their home team in the World Cup here, it struck a nostalgic chord with the Dutchman.
One of the legends of the game, Kruize would vouch for the love and knowledge of the Indian hockey spectators.
During his time, Kruize said playing in India was an honour for any player and it is so even now. The only difference is that youngsters touring the country have only heard about the pride of place that the sport occupies in Indian hearts.
"We have seen it all in our days," said Kruize, a veteran of six World Cups.
"The stadiums used to be teeming with people. There used to be 30,000 or so watching hockey and I am saying that even for matches not involving India," the 58-year-old told IANS.
"Those days it was considered a huge honour for a any player worth his salt to come to India because the crowd was knowledgeable. They knew the sport. But in this World Cup, I am surprised, you don't find big crowds for matches where India are not playing.
"I have played a lot here. It's fantastic. I know how enthusiastic the Indians are about hockey," said the architect of the Netherlands' World Cup final win over India in 1973 that gave the European side their first crown.
"Even today for the new generation of players, there is so much to learn by playing in India."
Kruize, currently the manager of the Dutch team, acknowledged India's importance in international hockey.
"It is important that the World Cup is being played in India. Hopefully, it will reignite the love for the game in the country. It would have been better had India won all their matches. It could have drawn more fans to the stadium," said the lethal penalty corner specialist who played more than 200 internationals and scored 167 goals.
India have lost two of their three matches in Pool B to jeopardise their semi final prospects.
"In my days, I have lost more matches against India than I have won. There used to be brilliant quality players in India. India was a tough team," said Kruize.
The India-Pakistan match is one encounter that occupies a special place in every hockey lovers' heart and Kruize has been witness to some of those great moments of rivalry.
"It's fascinating to watch India take on Pakistan. The ambience is electrifying. It may not be always the best in terms of the quality of hockey, but it is certainly the best in terms of rivalry and the excitement it generates on the turf and among the fans in the sub-continent. The Netherlands and Germany have a similar rivalry but India-Pakistan matches stand apart," said Kruize, the top scorer in the 1972 Munich Olympics.
He may be busy managing his national team, but for Kruize, the ongoing World Cup has been an occasion to relive the old times in hockey, when the artistry of the Indian and Pakistani players kept fans mesmerised till the Europeans started making their presence felt in a big way.