Lack of spectators in Junior Hockey WC is a concern: FIH chief

New Delhi: Empty seats during the Junior Hockey World Cup here has not gone well with the FIH and the world body`s chief Leandro Negre on Sunday said that in future the organisers should be pro-active in bringing spectators in the stadium.

"India has always been a good host but our only concern is lack of spectators. We are not satisfied with this in the Junior Hockey World Cup and we have to find a solution. In future, the organisers have to be pro-active before the tournament, like free tickets can be distributed in schools and colleges. They can offer free cold drink or tea along with the ticket," Negre told PTI Bhasha in an interview.

He said it was necessary to popularise the game worldwide and for that raising the glamour quotient was a must.

"We have to do something additional to attract people. It can be Bollywood stars, cheerleaders, fireworks, music, etc. We have to glamourise the game like IPL in cricket. Hockey India League is a right step in this direction. We can not compete with cricket but we can approach," he said.

Negre also proposed to hold 2018 Senior Hockey World Cup matches in two different cities with semifinals and final in Delhi. "Delhi is the capital and hockey event is one among thousand other events (in other sports) while we have seen packed stadiums in smaller cities like Jallandhar or Ranchi. Similarly in Malaysia, Johor Bahru had packed stadium which was lacking in Kuala Lumpur. In Delhi, the stadium is also big and it is tough to have packed crowd.

"I have proposed to Hockey India to have pool matches of 2018 WC in two different cities like Mohali or Ranchi or in Odisha and semifinals and final in Delhi. But it is our (FIH) opinion and there has to be consent of both the sides," he said.

FIH is also planning to introduce Hockey5 on the lines of Hockey9 to popularise the game. "Hockey 5 is an innovative idea which will make the game spectator friendly, less expensive and popular like indoor and beach hockey in Europe," Negre said.

Asked about his views on resumption of Indo-Pak bilateral hockey, he said that FIH has always favoured it. "It will be fantastic if India and Pakistan can revive their hockey rivalry. Both the federations are ready but there is political aspect also which they have to consider. My personal opinion is that whenever they play this bilateral series, one test match should be held in Dhaka to promote the game in Bangladesh," said the veteran administrator.

Asked about India`s dismal show in Junior Hockey World Cup, Negre said that Indian players need to be mentally tough. "India has a glorious past of hockey and people want medals immediately which is not possible. It takes time to build a team and they have to be patient. But Indian hockey has improved in the last five years. The weakness of the team is lack of mental strength," he said.

"Indian team is not mentally strong like Germany, Holland. For example, they could not win a crucial match against Korea despite leading 3-1. Teams like Germany or Holland or Australia would not have drawn the match from that stage. But I am sure that India will do well in 2018 senior World Cup," he added.

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