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October 1, 2000
Walsh calls for 'expansive' hockey
Jaideep Singh in Sydney
When Australian coach and former captain Terry Walsh says that it’s time to back expansive hockey so that youngsets are attracted to play, the hockey administrators surely can't ignore the point of view.
Walsh says hockey is losing its charm and this is a dangerous turn of events with other sporting disciplines trying to attract youngsters.
"We need to continue to make our game attractive as it's fighting other sports to attract top class talent," says Walsh. "And for this, promoting the expansive style of hockey is the only way to go."
The expansive style of hockey, made famous by subcontinental teams India and Pakistan over six decades ago, has now gone out of fashion.
Australia too plays the same style of hockey but has taken a few leaves out of the modern European style to remain among the top hockey-playing nations while the subcontinental sides have lost their pre-eminent status of yore.
"We play open style of hockey which is needed to attract the crowds back to the spectacular game," Walsh said.
"During the current Olympics, we’ve seen a resurgence of Pakistan and India and that's good for the game.
"In open, expansive hockey you get lots of chances and that brings the spectators to the hockey matches."
Walsh said the entertaining, expansive style of hockey needs to be rewarded rather than pushed under the carpet.
"Something needs to be done at the top, the iron's hot and it's time to strike," he said, without going into details. "We’ll talk about this at a different platform."
Understandably, Walsh did not want to precipitate things when Australia was playing host to the world for the Olympic Games. But he has sent a clear signal for the International Hockey Federation to take note.
Walsh said Australia’s bronze medal, which they won defeating Pakistan 6-3 in the play-off for the third place, wasn’t the colour of medal they had hoped for.
"This tournament was our most consistent performance but the gold still remains elusive, you can't get any closer than this time," he said.
Walsh talked of his nightmare to get the boys back into the required frame of mind for the bronze medal game after the tie-breaker loss in the semifinals.
"The boys did a great job to come out of the disappointment very quickly. The team showed its colours on the field," he said. "We had to put the disappointment of the semifinal loss away and did that within 24 hours.
"Last evening the boys were up to the job for the bronze medal game."
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