The Hero Hockey Junior World Cup to showcase the hottest young talent our sport has to offer: Leandro Negre

MUMBAI: The president of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Leandro Negre feels the Hero Hockey Junior World Cup is the perfect platform for the most talented young players in the world to make a name for themselves and also leave a big impression on those who are watching in the stands or following the action on television or on the live stream.

He says, “Of course, if India were to win the tournament the impact would be huge, but with so many great hockey nations competing it is really difficult to predict who will lift the trophy.”

The fact that the event is being hosted in India is an added bonus for Leandro as he is extremely fond of India, not just in terms of a Hockey destination but also as a country. “I am really looking forward to visiting the country again. I love everything about coming to India, I am always made to feel extremely welcome here. Hockey events in India are always very special, and the atmosphere when the home team are in action is something that has to be seen to be believed. It is a real privilege to experience it.”

Talking about Indian Hockey, he feels India holds a very special place in world hockey and there is abundant talent in the country to become a world class side

Speaking on the topic of India’s promising young brigade making the transition from junior to senior hockey he said, “India has always been strong at the junior level. However, it is not always easy to make the transition from junior to senior hockey. This is not something which is unique to India but applies to every hockey playing nation in the world. That said, the India men’s team is very talented and looks to have a fine crop of young talent coming through the ranks. I think it’s really important that India gets behind the team during the Hero Junior World Cup as fan support can really make a big difference. The future looks bright for Indian hockey.”

Leandro believes that currently hockey is going through a very exciting phase globally. The development of complementary formats such as Hockey 5s - a faster, higher scoring, action packed format played between teams of only five players - are particularly attractive to youth and non-traditional hockey audiences. As a part of it’s new strategy, the FIH is keen to entertain and inspire a global movement of hockey fans and players, by attracting more people to play, support and love the game of hockey.

To Leandro, the success of the first edition of the Hero Hockey India League is a step in the right direction to grow the game, and he is greatly looking forward to seeing it return in 2014. “It is the kind of event that hockey needs, a professional tournament that shines a light on hockey’s superstars and appeals to fans all around the world. It has had a significant impact on the worldwide exposure of the game.”

But before HHIL, India will also play host to the Hero Hockey World League Finals in January next year. So whichever way one looks at it, there is a lot of Live action hockey in store for fans in India in the coming months, and many more occasions for Mr. Leandro Negre to visit a country that is almost like a second home to him.

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