The charm of the Hockey World Cup inspires several seasoned players and makes them work harder to compete with the best in the business decade after decade.
Even though such top-class players are there in different countries, Argentina leads the pack with three – including Lucas Vila and Matias Rey, who made their debut in 2006 and are playing in their fifth World Cup, and Augstin Mazzilli (who is competing in his fourth, including three in India, World Cup).
“We know how to face some situations. We know what it means to lose, what it means to become third and what it means to become 12th. So this is something we need to share with our teammates who are younger. This is the moment for the three of us to be next to the players, who don’t have the experience but they are going to take the team forward,” said Mazzilli.
Vila rightly said his generation saw the growth of Argentina into an Olympic champion. “We know each other, we have played lots of matches together, and we know the story of the team. We came from a really low ranking and got better. We are proud to be part of this team,” said Vila. “Younger players are coming up. We (older players) invest a lot of time in training.”
Kookaburra great Eddie Ockenden valued competing with other elite sides. “I really enjoy the challenge of playing against fantastic teams, playing around my teammates. I am trying to help the team win matches and win tournaments. Am lucky to be able to do that,” he said. Ockenden, playing his fourth World Cup, said he loved the fitness part of the sport.
On a lighter note, Australia coach Colin Batch chipped in. “He (Eddie) has got three boys and he chases around, that’s part of his fitness as well.”
Ace Indian goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh also takes pride in representing India in his fourth World Cup.
Two Koreans in their late 30s, Nam Yong Lee and Jonghyun Jang, who first played in the showpiece event in 2006, are still assets for their team.
“Happy to coach the experienced players. They know how to play, how to control the game,” said Korean coach Seok Kyo Shin, a double Asian Games gold medallist.