As the third edition of the Hero Hockey India League is inching ever nearer, the thrill and excitement of the imminent challenge has began to build amongst all the teams and they were seen practicing rigorously with the entire team line-up at their respective home-turfs ahead of the League.
Studded with countless celebrated players from world over, the teams are resolute to put their final game-plans in place and make the most out of the last few practice sessions before the League kicks off on January 22. Under the proficient guidance of the very noted coaches and lead by competent Captains, each and every one of the six participating teams have almost finalised their game strategies for the first matches, with a sole aim to perform big and open the League on a winning note.
Earlier today, the all new blue and yellow jersey of Jaypee Punjab Warriors was unveiled at Mohali by the Captain Jamie Dwyer alongwith Head Coach Barry Dancer and will see cosmetic changes like the back of the jersey have a netted look and the horse in the logo getting a more prominent look.
Speaking during the unveiling ceremony Captain Jamie Dwyer said, “I am really impressed by the new look of the horse on the jersey and it already is giving me the feeling of being unbeatable. The entire team is upbeat and looking forward to the League and I hope going by the new look and feel of our jersey we stand with pride and walk away with the trophy at the end of the tournament.”
Speaking after a practice session, Ranchi Rays Coach Harendra Singh said: “Our team Ranchi Rays is quite strong in all departments in this season and if everything goes per our plan, we have a strong chance to win the 3rd edition of the Hero Hockey India League. There are many factors with us like most of the players are the same from last season so our coordination is very good and all the players have gelled-up together very well.”
Ranchi Rays’ South African midfielder Austin Smith said: “Our team is very organised and well-prepared for the upcoming challenges and all are very encouraging and spirited. It’s also good to see MS Dhoni in our side and supporting us.”
Speaking post their laborious but essential practice session,Vikram Pillay, Midfielder for Dabang Mumbai said, “For us, we will play every game like a final match giving our best every time. One cannot say anything about the end result as anything can happen but one sure thing for us is that, as a team, each one of us is keen on performing our finest. Hockey India League is one of the best hockey leagues as it provides a great platform for all the young hockey players. There are players from different countries participating in the League and you see a mix of European hockey style and Indian Hockey style coming together giving us an opportunity of mutual learning and experience.”
Happy to join the training session ahead of the League, Andrew Charter, Goalkeeper for Kalinga Lancers said, “The team has gone through a few changes; with a few new and young players in the line-up the team is looking pretty good. The side has improved and we are hoping to perform better than the last season. This is my first season with the Lancers and I am looking forward to the outing. The strategy for us is pretty simple- to go out on the ground and score more goals while I will be aiming at saving more goals every time. It will be a team effort to make my job easy by ensuring the shots come from easy angles for me so that I perfectly save them from entering the nets.”
Practicing hard at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium in New Delhi, Delhi Waveriders’ Forward Simon Child said, “With not many days left for HHIL, our team is endlessly working to put our strategies in place and to use to the maximum the strengths of the squad, in the approaching league. Our approach would be to focus on our strong points and improve the weak areas. We have a very good team and will bring into play our experience gained from the training judiciously to create the right winning combination this time even. At the end, as already said by others, the motive remains the same – to emerge as ultimate winners and retain our title.”
Putting in order his team of players, Barry Dancer, Coach of Jaypee Punjab Warriors said, “The boys are high on spirit, getting ready for the challenge and are all set to play as a team together. The strategies are chalked out and organised. We have also made it a vital point to focus on each player on every aspect be it their fitness or individual game approach and skills.”