The Hockey World Cup in India
The Hockey World Cup this year is in Bhubaneswar, India at the Kalinga Stadium in front of 15,000 of hockey’s biggest fans. This stadium has been the home to many large international tournaments and it has been revamped for the Hockey World Cup allowing even more hockey crazy fans to squeeze inside.
The pre-tournament hype
As expected the Indian Team has been feeling a lot of love from their nation and they couldn’t be more excited to host.
Chris Ciriello, the Indian Men’s Analytic Coach and Former-Kookaberra, has been part of the Indian coaching staff for over 10 months.
“It is totally crazy over here! The hype has been going for over a month, with media twice a week which has cameras and huge amounts of reporters. There was an opening ceremony as well with a lot of Bollywood actresses to kick off the event. It will all be ecstatic.”
We ran a poll on Instagram:
“Do the hockey crazy Indian fans give Team India a huge advantage?”
Over 100 people responded and 75% said ‘No Doubt’, while 25% answered with ‘Too Much Pressure.’
After the first two matches of the tournament, it appears that the local fans are helping India have standout performances. India came out full-force in the first night of the tournament in their match against South Africa. They won 5-0 and had 29 circle entries to South Africa’s 15. It was a great way for them to kick off the tournament, and as you can imagine the crowd was wild.
In match two, again they came out blazing and had a hard fought match again the 2nd ranked team in the world, Belgium. It was an extremely even match in terms of circle entries, 12 to India, 10 to Belgium, and it ended tied 2-2.
Playing in India is a wild experience
Many of the men playing in the World Cup have played in India before, be it for the Indian Hockey League, or for another international competition. And they love the spirit in Kalinga Stadium.
Here’s what it’s like to play in India, according to some of the competing athletes:
“Incredible! Amazing and passionate fans, climate is much more pleasant to play in than home. It’s also like being a footballer with how well looked after and treated you feel when you stay here.” – David Ames – England
“India is really wild and very different. The people are really fans of hockey. A lot of supporters will be at the stadium so it’s a very nice atmosphere to play in” – Tomas Santiago – Argentina
“Playing in India is absolutly amazing! I have the opportunity to play India in India at the U21 World Cup and I can remember the crowd just being electric! It’s exciting we get to encounter India and to begin the tournament! We aim to make history, and everything here is made outta curry which I love!!” – Tyson Dlungwana – South Africa
“It’s an incredible experience playing in front of so many fans. The noise is challenging to play with but it adds energy to the game. It’s a special thing to play a major tournament in India.” – James Kirkpatrick – Canada
Getting to compete in India has a lasting impact…
Listen to Lucas Sevestre, former France National Team Player and now Gryphon Hockey MD, as he reflects on his stint playing in India back in the day:
“I was that young kid playing hockey for France and made it to India to hopefully qualify for the 2012 Olympic games in London. Just having the opportunity to go to India, which at that time I considered the best place for hockey in the world, I was on another planet! We walked into the stadium which held almost 20,000 people.
We played in the final in front of 18,000 people and they were all cheering for India of course. It was just insane! I had never experienced anything like that before and I think that will always be one of my most powerful memories.
Unfortunately we lost the finals so we didn’t qualify for the Olympics, but throughout the whole tournament, the atmosphere in India regarding hockey was just outstanding and breathtaking. I would definitely count that as one of the best experiences of my life!”
To all those involved in the Hockey World Cup 2018, we hope you all have a magical experience just as Lucas and these other athletes.
Best of luck in the tournament and enjoy the excitement!
Join Uru Sports to learn more about hockey around the world from the athletes themselves!