Even while tackling a few issues, the French hockey team is building itself up for its home Olympics in 2024.
Making its fourth World Cup appearance and second consecutive one here, France has emerged as a promising side. Its bronze medal finish in the 2021 Junior World Cup was another indication of French hockey’s development.
Even though the massive 8-0 loss to World No.1 Australia in its opening Pool-A match here was a spirit-sapping experience, France coach Fred Soyez sounded realistic.
“Australia is stronger, faster and the difference was there. Now we have to focus on our next match,” Soyez, who coached Spain to a fifth-place finish in the 2016 Olympics, told Sportstar.
Soyez said even though France did not have a big pool of players, it had been preparing for the Paris Olympics. “We are trying to work for (a good) performance in the (2024) Olympics. We don’t have a lot of players. It is not easy, but we are focused.
“We have only 50000 players in France. It is smaller than that in big countries like the Netherlands, Germany and India. We are not professionals, so it’s difficult to compete with other European countries. We have some good players and sometimes we can compete in junior competitions but in senior competitions, it is too complicated. The difference is too big.
“We have a young team. We have eight players who played in the last junior World Cup. They need experience. It’s a process, it’s step by step. We have 18 months to work for the Olympics and try to be fifth.”
Soyez is trying to get his players together and help them grow as a team. “All the players are training with their clubs. We try to train every week, on Tuesdays, together. One morning we do fitness. We have a very good target, but we have a limited budget,” said Soyez.
The French Hockey Federation (FFH) has made some efforts and roped in a new sponsor to develop the sport across the country in the run-up to the Olympics.