Junior Hockey World Cup: A World Cup of hope

Junior Hockey World Cup: A World Cup of hope
© Provided by The Times of India

Despite empty stands, the Junior Hockey World Cup delighted with goal fests, records & hopes of a future beyond pandemic

The Junior Hockey World Cup came to an end in Bhubaneswar on Sunday with Argentina winning the title for only the second time in their long history. Germany had beaten them once in the group stage, but they couldn’t do it when it mattered the most and were handed their only defeat of the tournament.

Although the crowds were banned from watching the matches, the successful hosting of the tournament was another feather in the cap for Bhubaneswar, which will now shift its focus to hosting the senior World Cup in 2023 along with Rourkela. As for this tournament, it had everything that one could hope for and here are some of the takeaways from the event.

Goals and records

The tournament saw a record 327 goals scored in 48 matches. The 2016 event saw 185 goals scored in 44 matches while in 2013, 223 were scored in 44 games. Record for the most number of goals scored in a match as well as the record for the biggest margin of victory were broken during the event. The biggest win first came when Argentina beat Egypt 14-0, but it was bettered on the same day when Spain beat the USA 17-0 in a later match. Meanwhile, the record for most number of goals scored in a match was broken when Pakistan beat the USA 18-2 in a classification match.

French domination

Although they failed to make it to the final, France were hugely impressive with their performance and they beat defending champions India twice in the tournament and that too in their own backyard. Marshalled by their captain Timothee Clement, who won the best player of the tournament award, the Frenchmen won all their matches but one. With the 2024 Olympics taking place in Paris, one can expect a good showing from the home side which will surely have a lot of players from this team.

Learning curve for India

The Indian team came into the tournament without any international exposure and the final outcome was there for everyone to see. They did beat Belgium in the quarters but in the end failed to finish on the podium. As coach Graham Reid said, the players will hopefully learn from this experience and become better in the future. Despite the result though they were the most attacking team of the tournament with 175 circle entries.

Pakistan disappoint

Even as India made it to the semis, it was another disappointing show from Pakistan. The team which had been a powerhouse once, failed to make it into the quarters and even lost against South Africa in a classification match. Moreover, the weaker teams like USA, Canada and Egypt really struggled against the top teams. Hopefully, FIH will take notice of this and focus their resources on developing the game in these countries rather than trying to promote Hockey 5s in the future.

Challenge accepted

With the pandemic still going on, there were concerns whether holding the tournament would be a risk. England, Australia and New Zealand had even pulled out of the tournament because of travel protocols in place. However, apart from the one case among the staff members of the Odisha government, the tournament went on smoothly. Cyclone Jawad did become a worry towards the end but luckily it didn’t cause much disruption.

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