By Abhishek Roy
New Delhi: Germany’s two-time Olympic gold medal winning hockey star Moritz Feurtse feels Indians have the skills to adapt to the European passing style of play instead of the hit-and-run Australian method.
Moritz, who is here captaining holders Ranchi Rhinos in the Hockey India League (HIL), has a simple logic to his advice to the Indians: The Europeans have been the dominating force in world hockey for over a quarter of a century, to be precise from 1988, and that proves my point.
Come to think of it, since the 1988 Seoul Games, European teams have won gold in six of the seven Olympics and four of the six World Cups and that’s a staggering record.
Germany have won three Olympic gold medals (1992, 2008, 2012), the Netherlands two (1996, 2000) and Great Britain (1988) once. Australia (2004) are the only non-European to have won an Olympic medal. Germany (2002 and 2006) and the Netherlands (1990 and 1998) have also won the World Cup twice each during this period.
“Since the 1988 Olympics, European teams have dominated the Games. So if European teams have ruled the Olympics for 25 years, it is pretty evident why we are so successful. I can’t say much about the future of world hockey, for the present Europeans are ruling the roost,” the 29-year-old Moritz told IANS in an interview.
Moritz wondered why skilled Indian players are trying to mould themselves in the Australian style when they can reach greater heights if they try to adapt to the European style.
“Indian players are so skilled. They should embrace the European style which is all about passing. Indian hockey is trying to replicate Australian style, which is more about counter-attack and hit-and-run. But the Indians are skillful enough to play the passing game well. It is tough, but will be rewarding,” said playmaker Moritz, one of the most decorated men in world hockey.
Citing the example of the rapidly rising Belgium, Moritz said: “Look at Belgium, they have come along so well in the last two years. When they can do well, I see no reason why the Indians cannot come up.”
The German said India’s eight Olympic gold medals have become irrelevant for the youngsters.
“In Germany there is a saying that your success is as good as yesterday, so I feel all the eight-gold medals India won have lost their relevance younger players today. They have to live in their present and have to find ways to make a better future,” said Moritz, who was the world player of the year in 2012.
Moritz feels the HIL is a good initiative and will benefit the young players.
“The league is in its second year. It is a good initiative and will benefit the younger players. Sharing the dressing room with some of the best players in the world will surely benefit the young players,” he said.
The German feels financially the HIL is good, but the standard of competition is better in the European leagues.
“The HIL is financially good for players the amount of money they make during the month-long league is pretty attractive. But the standard of the game in European leagues is better. But the two concepts are different. In HIL, you build a team in just two-weeks and it runs for less than a month whereas the European league runs for six months with a winter break,” said Moritz.
Asked which league the Indians should pick, Dutch or German, he said: “Both are very different kinds of league. The Dutch league is a lot more offensive while the German league is all about building up a game, more on the defensive side. I feel the German league will help the Indians to become better players.”
On the personal front, Moritz, who has always been a gold medal winning German team, said he was gearing up for the World Cup that will be played in The Hague from May 31 to June 15.
Mortiz was a part of the team that won the Olympics in 2008, 2012, World Cup (2006), European Championship (2011) and Champions Trophy (2007).
Moritz said he was humbled to be a part of the great German team.
“It just happened. I am just so lucky to be part of such a great German team,” he signed off.