France using Hockey World Cup 2018 as stepping stone to 2024 Olympics

In Bhubaneswar for the Hockey World Cup 2018, France captain Victor Charlet says that the French Hockey Federation wants the team to be among the top of world hockey teams ahead of the Olympic Games in 2024.

France captain Victor Charlet in Bhubaneswar.   -  Y.B. Sarangi

With France shouldering the responsibility of hosting the 2024 Olympics, the French Hockey Federation (FFH) has taken some solid steps to reflect on the country's proud history in the sport and build its national side as a power to be reckoned with in six years time.

Inspired by the success of Belgian hockey team, the FFH launched a robust project, ‘Ambition 2024’, involving sponsors, players and other stakeholders ‘to give hockey the place it deserves in the French sports heritage.’

Under the comprehensive project, FFH, which will celebrate 100 years of French hockey in 2020, will stage international competitions and high quality leagues.

READ: Inner Mongolia’s ‘brave 18’ help China draw against England

The FFH, which has assigned the supervision of the project to a steering committee, headed by former goalkeeper Henri Lohmme, planned to prepare its national side for the Hockey World Cup here. Its ultimate aim is to see the men's team achieve a top-five finish and the women’s side a top-10 slot in the Paris Olympics.

“The FFH wants us to be among the top of world hockey teams because we have the Olympic Games in 2024. We want to come within top-10,” France's captain Victor Charlet told Sportstar.

READ: 'Dalliance with Hockey5s a mistake'

Charlet expressed satisfaction over France’s preparation for the World Cup. “We did have a tough preparation for one year. We played lots of friendly matches before coming here. We are more professional now.”

Charlet admitted that France, which is playing the World Cup after 28 years, was under pressure and lost its first Pool A match against New Zealand 2-1. “The pressure of World Cup is different. If you lose one match, then the impact is more in a World Cup. If you lose a friendly game, it does not matter much because it is a friendly match. You have the pressure of your country.”

Charlet said having World and Olympic champion Jerone Delmee as the coach was a blessing. “Delmee is a legend and he knows all about professional hockey. We are fortunate to have a man like him. When he speaks, you listen and improve on the pitch. It's good to have a legend like him,” said Charlet.