Coaches taking Champions Trophy to develop their teams for RioBhubaneshwar: The Champions Trophy is regarded as the third most important hockey tournament after Olympics and the World Cup, but almost all the eight participating teams in the ongoing edition here have fielded relatively young
Bhubaneshwar: The Champions Trophy is regarded as the third most important hockey tournament after Olympics and the World Cup, but almost all the eight participating teams in the ongoing edition here have fielded relatively young squads to "develop" their bench strength for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
World champions and five-time reigning title holders Australia, Olympic champions Germany, world number two the Netherlands and Belgium among others have brought quite a few youngsters, who are part of the junior squad, for the elite eight-nation tournament.
In fact, hosts India, who have booked a direct ticket to Rio by winning the Asian Games gold after a hiatus of 16 years, too are taking this event as their first build up to 2016 Olympics.
"The Olympics is two years away and we have recently qualified for Rio. So no doubt we are taking the Champions Trophy as a build-up. It is the right time to start our preparations. Not just us, other teams are also considering this tournament to develop their team for the Olympics," India's High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans said.
Hurt by retirements and injuries to some key players like Jamie Dwyer, Mark Knowles and Kieren Govers, world champions Australia also fielded a young side for the event.
The Kookaburras are also going through a transition phase post Ric Charlesworth's era and current coach Graham Reid summed it up perfectly when he said that a high-profile tournament like the Champions Trophy is the perfect platform to give junior players a taste of high-level hockey ahead of the Rio Games.
"The idea for the next 12 months is to provide our players with opportunities. The injuries to Dwyer, Knowles, Govers have given us the opportunity to bring younger guys and give them more matches at the highest level," Reid told PTI.
"Four or five of the guys are brand new. The younger guys will understand what international hockey is all about. They all played junior World Cup but this is their first senior tournament. We are trying to develop broader base of players in the next 12 months.