It’s not an everyday thing to see a domestic hockey academy undertake an exposure tour abroad. Gwalior-based Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA) girls team must have had a plenty to gain from their recent three-week trip to the Netherlands. The 20-member MPHA under-18 girls team played as many as ten exposure games against various Dutch clubs such as Almere, Kampong, Gantoise, Bloemendaal, Laren, Den Bosch, and HGC. It is important to note that former Hockey India High Performance Manager and Indian men’s hockey team coach Roelant Oltmans was instrumental in working out the modalities of the Netherlands exposure trip, having visited India last month to spent time at the MHPA.
Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy (MPHA) girls team coach Paramjeet Singh puts things in perspective. “It was a highly rewarding trip for the MPHA girls. Our girls will be richer with the Dutch tour experience and I have no doubts that they will be a lot more confident after playing against some highly competitve Dutch girls club teams,” he says in a chat with Hockey Passion.
Singh talked about the areas that MPHA girls needs to work on. “The Dutch girls’ sides have more strength than my girls but our girls were high on agility. Our girls are also much better in terms of ball speed. Overall the girls took every game as a learning curve.”
However, he was of the opinion that Dutch sides were far superior as far as goalkeeping is concerned. “The goalkeeping standards of the Dutch teams was very high – they have better equipment and mostly belong to well-to-do families and could afford such equipment. Over there youngsters pick up hockey not just with an aspiration to play for the country but also for physical fitness,” he says.
The MPHA girls won six of their ten games, drew three and lost one game. This is not the first time that the MPHA girls team have toured overseas – since 2014 the girls have undertaken tours of England, Belgium, and Netherlands.