Bhubaneswar: Just like the entire world, the Australian hockey team has also been affected by country mate and cricketer Phillip Hughes sudden death and national coach Graham Reid said that the tragic accident made everyone "realise how fickle life can be".
"You try and keep it separated from emotions but it (Hughes death) affected the whole nation. It in fact affected the entire world," Reid told PTI on the eve of his side's FIH Champions Trophy opener against England at the Kalinga Stadium here Saturday.
"It's a tragedy when something like this happen. What it does is that make everybody realise how fickle life can be," said the former defender, who was part of Australia's silver medal winning team in 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Hughes died at St. Vincent Hospital in Sydney last week after being struck by a Sean Abbott bouncer while batting for South Australia in a Sheffield Shield game against New South Wales at the SCG. He was 25.
The Australian batsman was laid to rest at his hometown, Macksville in a heart-wrenching and emotional funeral on Wednesday.
Reid said even though Hughes' untimely death proved sports can sometimes be dangerous, he lauded the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for its effort to make hockey much safer now.
"What it did is make everyone aware that what we play sometimes can be dangerous. But at this level I think it's a very safe game. And credit to FIH for changing the rules. Penalty corner defence equipments have changed and that's good for the game," he said.
Australia hockey captain Eddie Ockenden termed Hughes death as a "tragic time for sports".
"It obviously is a tragic time for everyone at the moment in sports. I think everyone feels for Phil and his family. It's a tragic incident. It's a terrible accident," Ockenden reacted.
He, however, feels Hughes death won't have any effect on the Kookaburras performance in the Champions Trophy.
"I don't think that as a hockey player we can worry about that too much. We obviously feel sad for the tragic accident but we have a tournament to play," Ockenden said.
He said hockey is a much safer game now and from time to time the administrators of the game will have to make changes to ensure players safety.
"Over the last few years Hockey Australia and Kookaburras have worried about players safety. We want the players to be safe. Penalty corners sometimes can be dangerous but we have to take steps to ensure the players are safe," he signed off.