Jamshedpur: India will have to invest huge amounts to improve hockey infrastructure in order to regain the top slot in the world, according to former Dutch hockey star and Olympian Floris Jan Bovelander.
A gold medalist in the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Bovelander was talking to newsmen after meeting Tata Steel officials regarding setting up of a hockey academy in Jharkhand.
Bovelander was accompanied by Rob Van Nes, associated with the project "One Million Hockey Legs", and Khorshed Talati, senior development officer of Tata Trust.
He said that India had enough potential and skill to play and match the European and Australian style of hockey.
One of the areas of investment is artificial grass on which young talent (from under 14-year age group) have to be trained to improve hockey standards dramatically, he says.
"I have visited places like Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Vadodara. India has talented players as well as world-class technique, but does not have adequate infrastructure," he rued.
The former Dutch star, who was renowned for his penalty corner execution that saw him score 216 goals in 241 internationals, said he ideally wanted to promote hockey from the school level and involve more school children to spread knowledge of the game among them.
The Government of India and Netherlands had signed an MoU in January, 2014 to promote and improve hockey in the country, he said.
"Under the agreement, we want to explore the possibility of how we could help India improve its facilities, coaching and nurture talent," Bovelander said.
About the discussion with Tatas, Bovelander said it was an exploratory visit and they had a positive discussion about the game.