As the semifinals of the World Hockey League (WHL) are peeking from the horizon, the action packed hockey games are just round the corner. The WHL is organized by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in place of the qualifying matches that were formerly played for the Olympics and the Hockey World Cup. So, this tournament will decide the finalist teams for the Rio Olympics in 2016.
Last year’s final saw Netherlands defeating New Zealand by a whopping score of 7-2 in Delhi’s Major Dhyan Chand Hockey Stadium. A tournament that started with its first edition in the year 2012-13, the WHL, now, happens once in every two years.
There are four rounds in this WHL which make it even bigger and full of thrills. The results of the two rounds have put both Indian men and women’s team in the third round, which is the round of semi-finals. The Indian men’s hockey team is in Group-A with teams of Australia, France, Pakistan and Poland. The semifinals start from 20th June to 5th July 2015. The final and the fourth round of this tournament will be held in Mohali, India from 28thNovember to 6thDecember later this year.
Sardar Singh shall be leading India in this tournament. Paul van Ass, the coach of the Indian Men’s Hockey Team, has dropped a national regular player Rupinderpal Singh, who had committed several errors in the previous matches. For this tournament, the coach’s strategy is to try out different combinations of players which could work for the team’s benefit. Replacing Rupinderpal Singh, we have Jagjit Singh, who impressed the coach by his spectacular national performances in the previous months.
On the other hand, the women team looks very determined to make it to the Rio Olympics. The recent performances by the women team have strengthened the morale of the team, driving them to keep up the good show. As a matter of fact, the women’s hockey team didn’t get straight entry into the semifinals of the WHL, unlike the men’s hockey team. The women’s team had to clear the previous two rounds, out of which the second round took place in March this year. In light of the competitiveness the women’s team has shown, positive signs are only inferred from their performances.
The coach of the Indian Women’s Hockey Team, Mathias Ahrens looks determined that the team shall make to the Rio Olympics 2016. Both the teams are sure to make India proud, and our unending support counts to make them perform well in the semifinals of the World Hockey League. As it’s often said, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.”
Gagandeep Singh Vaid
Image Source: The Viewspaper