Jr. hockey world cup will be a stepping stone for my team, says USA coach

The Men’s Junior Hockey World Cup-2021 will be a stepping stone for the young players from the United States, the USA junior men’s team Coach Pat Harries said on Thursday.

In a country in which hockey is not a professional sport and where the women’s team gets the first use of resources, the USA boys have to make do with whatever facilities and opportunities they get. With it being difficult to earn a livelihood playing hockey, the players are engaged in some other activities and keep hockey as their backup, Harries said.

Speaking about preparation for the world cup, the USA coach said, “The preparation is quite minimal. We had only about 9 to 10 days of preparation just before this tournament. No one is living close to each other so there was no centralised camp programme also.”

As many of the boys are students, so they had a short training camp just before travelling to India, he said.

“I want to develop our boys. I would like to see our experienced players take more leadership roles and guide our younger players. The younger players gain experience in the tournament. It will be a huge stepping stone for the team,” the coach added.

Agreeing with the coach, team captain Jatin Sharma informed that he is studying business management economics, while some of the boys are in high schools. “We have taken this tournament seriously and have a lot of aspirations to play. It is like a great stepping stone for us,” Jatin said.

Both the coach and the captain are hoping to get an advantage from the presence of USA senior men’s team coach Harendra Singh, who is with the junior squad here. The team doesn’t want to miss out on his inside knowledge and first-hand experience of Indian conditions and players.

Harendra, who coached defending champions India to the Junior World Cup title in 2016, was roped in by USA Field Hockey earlier this year.

The USA junior hockey team arrived in Bhubaneswar on Thursday morning for the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s Junior World Cup, 2021, which will be held from November 24 to December 5.

There are five Indian-origin players in the US team which includes captain Jatin Sharma. The other Indian-origin players in the US squad are Mehtab Grewal, Gurcharan Johal, Amrinderpal Singh, and Shomik Chakraborty, the goalkeeper.

USA are in Pool C with the Netherlands, Spain and South Korea as the other teams