For the first time in Sri Lanka’s sporting history, local hockey players have been given an opportunity to play professional hockey in the Netherlands.
This historic opportunity was created to Sri Lanka though the National Olympic Committee (NOC) and it was initiated by Technical Director, NOC, Jelmer Kuyvenhoven.
President NOC, Suresh Subramanian
President NOC, Suresh Subramanian told the Daily News that Netherlands has won the Hockey World Cup eight times and their League standard too is very high.
“I witnessed one of the League hockey finals in Holland before the Covid-19 epidemic between Amsterdam and Rotterdam and saw a window of opportunity for Sri Lankan players to get involved,” said Subramaniam.
Currently there are over 50 leagues/clubs in Holland and around 1,000 hockey turfs and it is a popular sport there. Most of the students join a club or league when they are around 12 years as there is no big appetite for inter-school sports events. Netherlands has already started individual sports like running and biking and these have been made possible maintaining social distancing.
Subramaniam said he spoke to some of the senior hockey officials in Holland and requested them to allow some Sri Lankan hockey players to play for their Leagues.
This proposal was accepted and they will invite a few Sri Lankan hockey players to play for Holland Professional leagues/clubs when the corona pandemic issue settles.
The selected Sri Lankan hockey players will be provided all facilities including airfare, accommodation lodging and an allowance. They will also sign a contract.
The most important aspect of this is that the Sri Lankan players would get tremendous international exposure playing with foreign players. Upon their return to Sri Lanka these local players can share their knowledge enabling Sri Lankan hockey standard to improve.
“This is an opportunity of ‘paid professional training’ for Sri Lanka players,” said Subramaniam.
Though hockey was a famous sport until the 1980’s it is today somewhat neglected and cold shouldered.