India should assert their right in world hockey: Bovelander
The Hague: Indian hockey seems a work in progress, feels Dutch legend Floris Jan Bovelander who wants the erstwhile champions of the game to re-assert their right among the new elite nations.
"There is change evident in the Indian team, they were unlucky to lose a couple of games to late goals and that derailed them at the start of the World Cup," said Bovelander, whose proficiency with the penalty corner helped Netherlands clinch gold in the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 Olympic Games.
Bovelander`s penalty corner conversion lifted Netherlands to the World Cup in Lahore against hosts Pakistan in 1990. Six years later, he scored twice in the final as Netherlands won their first Olympic hockey gold. He retired from international hockey after the Atlanta Olympic final.
Bovelander feels talent in India, as in any other country, can be nurtured through a programme that will provide a feeder system for successive national teams.
"Every country needs a proper talent-nurturing programme and India is no different," said the ex-Dutch star, who was renowned for his penalty corner execution that saw him score 216 goals in 241 internationals.
"Where India can have an advantage is the number of players across the vast country. From such huge number the talent is bound to emerge in abundance," said Bovelander.
"It is time for India to assert their position in world hockey, but it could take some time."
One of the sport`s greatest all-time penalty corner executioners, Bovelander is now involved with a coaching platform called `Hockey Factory` and also another company called `Bovelander and Bovelander` that organises hockey camps for young players.
Bovelander is also the brand ambassador for the inaugural World Beach Hockey Cup that started here today. Watching hockey, Bovelander continues to look out for what`s happening around penalty corners at major events.
In the current World Cup, the penalty corner conversion ratio has not been very impressive. Bovelander, however, feels the proportion would always stay around one conversion out of three corners.
"There has to be a balance, and that`s what guides all rule changes," says Bovelander.
Bovelander said any changes made to the penalty corner rules - even the evolution of rising drag flicks - was to balance the scoring opportunities.
"It will always remain an intense contest between the penalty corner shooter and the goalkeeper." said Bovelander.
"In the scoring rate drops, the penalty corner exponents will have to work on different strategy."
The penalty corner has evolved a great deal since Bovelander?s career ended with the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He featured in three Olymppics Games, winning two medals ?- a bronze at Seoul Olympics in 1988 followed by the gold in Atlanta.
In his playing days, Bovelander had to bank on stinging shots and their placement as goals were only awarded if the ball struck the boards.
"The goalkeepers these days have very good protective gear, but the drag flick is very powerful," said Bovelander.