Moritz Furste brings to Hockey India League (HIL) the German method and class, giving the Indian fans the chance to have a close look at how the sport is played at the highest level. A winner of two Olympic gold medals and one World Cup title, the German is currently the highest earner in the HIL.

Furste was instrumental in helping Ranchi Rhinos (now Ranchi Rays) claim the crown in the inaugural HIL. He moved to Kalinga Lancers this season.

Speaking to Sportstar , the 31-year-old half-back, who was named the best male player of the world by the FIH in 2012, was candid in his assessment of Indian hockey, which he has been seeing since the inception of the HIL in 2013.


Question: How do you see yourself as the most expensive player of the current HIL?

Answer: I haven’t really thought about that very much. Just working hard here with my team-mates and not talking so much about money in our team. Just focusing on performing well with the team — not because I am the costliest player, I always try to give my best on the field.

Having played in the Hockey India League from its inception, do you see the tournament redefining the sport?

I think it is a good opportunity for both the FIH and Hockey India to try out new things like we are doing at the moment with the rules. It is also very exciting for all the players because you get to meet each other for a period of six weeks. Before that, maybe, you just saw each other once a year in a tournament, and just played against each other and barely talked. Now you are team-mates with players from across the globe, with a Dutch guy, an Australian player, an English player and the Indians. You talk and you get to know each other and their styles and customs. It helps the sport in a great way.

There was a point in time when not many players were thinking of playing hockey professionally. Do you think HIL can reverse the trend?

Yes, probably because it is now possible to make some money by playing hockey. Lots of young players across the world and also players from Germany will consider going to India. If they can play there for about 10 years, they can make good money and they will not have to do much else. Definitely, this tournament will bring some changes as players can now think of playing hockey professionally.

Do you think the HIL will help hockey in terms of popularity?

I do not know if that counts for young kids all over the world but you see, at least it will inspire a lot of young kids around the place it is played. Around Ranchi there are lots of young kids who will get inspired on seeing so many star players from across the world from close quarters and would aspire to play here once they grow up.

Do you think such a tournament can be played in other places in the world, especially in Europe?

I do not think so in terms of feasibility. Theoretically, it is possible but in order to make it happen a lot depends on the circumstances that have to be right. I feel it is not the case in most of the European countries. Europe has a good club system though there are not many players playing field hockey, but the number is not bad either. The players are very much tied to their home cities and the set-up is working well.

The introduction of Astroturf has seen the dominance of teams from Europe and Australia. Do you think the traditional powers such as India and Pakistan can really catch up?

It will take time. India and Pakistan have missed out probably about 10 years and they just did not evolve with the game. They just did not get on the right track on which the game was developing, so they missed out a lot on that. Maybe, now they are five years behind because they are yet to have the structure that artificial pitch and the fast passing game demands. Individually, Indians are really good players but have missed on adopting the overall structure of the modern game. Maybe, everybody here was too excited about what had happened in the past. I feel from around 1995 until 2005 they did not think about playing structured hockey and could not see the changes happening in the game. That is why the other countries are on top now.

Talking about the Indian players, how do you rate them?

There are a lot of good Indian players. Some of them are best individual players in the world when you are talking about hockey skills. But to be a good hockey player you need to have a good understanding of the game. The other important aspects are passing, peripheral vision and the complete perception of the game, which many of the Indian players are missing.

Can you give us some Indian names that have impressed you?

I am a big fan of Birendra (Lakra) and Manpreet Singh of Ranchi (Rays), and in my team S. K. Uthappa is a really strong midfielder and Amit (Rohidas) is a really good defender. There are strong forwards like Akashdeep (Singh) and Ramandeep (Singh). They are very skilful with the ball but they do not seem to understand the game like the way Glenn Turner (the Australian striker with Kalinga Lancers) does. He is always in the right spot and takes the shot at the right time, and knows when to pass. You can learn a lot from players like him. The Indian players should use the opportunity and learn from the good international players and coaches who are here to assist them.