Mix of European technique and Indian skill is the perfect recipe, feels hockey legend Bovelander

The Dutch drag-flicker said he has always been impressed with Indian players' passing and dribbling ability

By Samrat Chakraborty ·

Floris Jan Bovelander burst into the limelight when he scored nine goals during the Hockey World Cup in 1990 in Lahore. It was a clinical performance that helped the Netherlands win the tournament at the expense of the hosts.

In a decorated career, he also won the Olympic gold at Atlanta 1996 and the bronze at Seoul 1988.

He is currently working at the Naval Tata Hockey Academy's (NTHA) High Performance Centre in Bhubaneswar, as the head coach. He is a keen observer of Indian hockey and he feels that the correct approach will be to incorporate European technique along with the indigenous spirit.

"If you look at the Indian men’s team, they have had many Australian and Dutch coaches and thus, they adapted some technical parts of European hockey," Bovelander said.

"But they still have their Indian spirit. I guess that’s how it should be. It would be dull for hockey if we all played the same way. We need some attractive players like the Indians always have had. I prefer to have the skillful and powerful dribbles of the Indians, although sometimes it is not as effective as it should be."

Floris Jan Bovelander in Bhubaneswar 

The Coronavirus jeopardised the international calendar in 2020 and he feels that hockey fans could well be surprised by results in Tokyo Olympics.

"In international hockey, there has hardly been any match for the last one year and the few matches that happened, were without any supporters," he said.

"Especially in Europe, I think it will take at least half-a-year or till the Olympics to play with spectators in a full stadium. I’m curious to see how the Olympics are going to be because you don’t have many top matches. You need top matches to see what the standard is and what level is of your team and the opposition as well. The Olympics will be a big surprise for most of us."

India finished the decade at their best ever world ranking: fourth. Bovelander feels that improvement in scouting and infrastructure at the grassroots are the two major reasons behind the development.

"I think the scouting has definitely improved in the past decade. The big advantage is that there are more academies with artificial pitches and good coaching, so that definitely helps to develop young children.

"Of course, more is better, but I think improving the infrastructure has definitely picked up over the last decade so you can see a big improvement in talent scouting. I see some changes there and it is good for Indian hockey."