Aussie colts eye glory

 The Australians have been among the powerhouses of world hockey. Their senior team has consistently held on to the top echelons and the colts are thoroughly trained to follow in their footsteps. The irrepressible spirit to win, the well known Australian character, defines their young men, too.

Their coach Paul Gaudoin, a former Australian captain and an exciting midfielder during his time, wished for more matches for his side but felt they have the resilience to battle against any opposition in the December 6-11 Junior Hockey World Cup here.

The team has had small camps throughout the year and Gaudion felt the real assessment of his side would be possible once they play their opening match against Argentina.
“We are happy with our preparation, mentally and physically. It has been a long training programme throughout the year. These young men have sacrificed a lot to be here. They are keen to succeed and give their best performance,” said Gaudion, who won two bronze medals with the Australian men’s hockey team at successive Olympics, in 1996 and 2000.

“Throughout the year we had small camps for may be 5-6 times. That’s the limitation. Australia is very big and our players are dispersed all over the country. It takes a four-hour flight for us to get together. We had some matches but you always want more matches and more time to be together. We haven’t had a major competition this year. We had some ‘Test’ matches against various countries. Perhaps, we will get to know where we stand when we play against Argentina.”

Gaudion said it was difficult to discover the quality of other teams in the competition because of paucity of tournaments at the junior level. This, he felt, had rendered the World Cup “wide open”.

“Not many teams have played against each other at the junior level. There isn’t money to play regularly and that makes it difficult to give an idea about who is the best team,” he said.

Gaudion, who had been in India in 2010 as assistant coach at the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games, said their side was focussed on winning the tournament.
“Our first goal is to win the tournament and that is why we are here. Second is to train these young men into the senior team and give them the experience to play in a world cup. To play in India, the real place for hockey, is fantastic for these guys and they are excited about it.

“We have the ability to fight. We have the mental resilience to keep playing for 70 minutes no matter what the score. We won’t be dropping our heads.”

The success of their senior side, Kookaburras, had also inspired this young lot, which was determined to give its best, also to impress the scouts for Hockey India League. “The youngsters have seen the senior Kookaburras players being picked for the league. They would love to be here too,” he said.

Comments (+)