India’s hockey team is well positioned to win a gold medal at the 2028 Olympics, believes India’s former high performance manager David John.
The former high performance director, on the sidelines of the Khelo India Youth Games, says the team would have had enough experience to absorb any kind of pressure to go for glory.
“At the 2024 and 2028 Games, most of the team members will be our current junior World Cup players. They would have played nearly 300 internationals together by then and would be around 30 years old each,” said David John.
India showed signs of a heartwarming resurgence, with the men winning bronze and the women finishing a valiant fourth at the Tokyo Games recently.
“These are exciting times for India, but many teams – including Germany, Australia, Belgium and the Netherlands – are also improving,” David said.
David John excited about his new role in Indian hockey
David, who was part of the Indian team for several years before quitting, has returned to the country as Odisha’s director of hockey. He is excited about his mission, especially as he has the full support of Odisha’s sports-loving chief minister, Naveen Patnaik.
“It’s a tough role. But if Odisha gets strong, Indian hockey gets strong, both men and women,” he explained.
In pursuit of this goal, Odisha is already building another 20 synthetic pitches in the deepest pockets of the state, where extreme poverty coexists with an abundance of natural talent.
“Soon our children will be playing on synthetics and not grass from the base level itself. Our next step is to put good coaches in each of these new fields so that they receive the best coaching at the grassroots level. Eight years from now you will see a different Odisha in sport and hopefully a different India,” he explained.
The highly respected Australian expressed amazement at the Indians’ dribbling skills but insisted they had to sacrifice them to become a global force again.
“Don’t try to dribble past your opponents. Modern sport is all about 3D and aerial skills. Fortunately, these young people have all acquired these skills. Our players are fast and skilled in attack but they lose the ball in rival D because they run too close to the defenders. Worse, it allows the other side to counterattack with devastating effect,” David concluded.
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