Field hockey feels like a niche sport throughout the world, but it is gaining some popularity for a few different reasons. Its counterpart, ice hockey, needs a lot of expensive equipment and funding to get off the ground, considering that it needs to be played in a controlled environment. Field hockey doesn’t need quite the same level of overhead, as many playing surfaces can be updated to accommodate the ever-growing sport.
Additionally, while there is contact in field hockey, it doesn’t rise to the level of violence that ice hockey is known for, so pricey helmets and protective gear are not nearly as warranted. There is a talent pool of amazing players all over the world playing the sport, which makes the Olympics an excellent time to get in and watch the action. Certain hockey fans may be more interested in what NHL odds predict with futures and parlay betting, but the field hockey teams will get a lot of attention in the next year and a half.
Let’s take a look at three field hockey teams who might do some serious damage in the 2024 Olympics.
At the highest level of any sport, often times matches are won and lost due to factors that go beyond the field of play. India certainly has one of the strongest teams in the world in the men’s field, as they are the standard bearers of the Asian Hockey Federation. If things break right, they could easily find themselves competing for a medal again, and could end up winning the gold.
Even though the games are still a ways away, the team from India might be playing with some added motivation in order to get the job done. A few months after the 2020 Olympics were played in the summer of 2021, India field hockey legend Charanjit Singh passed away at the age of 90. Singh was a legend in India, as he was the captain of the country’s 1964 gold medal team.
While all of the players on India’s current field hockey team were not born when Singh was starring on the field, they will all likely have heard of him. As of this writing, the India men’s field hockey team is ranked fourth in the world, and could certainly catapult themselves into the top three with continued strong showings. The team automatically garners respect as the first nation not located in Europe to be included in the International Hockey Federation.
The Netherlands have turned into a powerhouse for field hockey talent, as both their men’s and women’s teams are ranked at or near the top of the world rankings. Unfortunately for the men’s squad, they were not able to medal in the 2020 Olympics, as they were defeated by Australia in the quarterfinals. This was a disappointing result, considering that they featured some of the most renowned players in the sport.
Players like Billy Bakker and Mirco Pruijser hope to have one final crack at bringing home a gold medal in Paris, as they head towards their mid-thirties. With the spotlight as bright as its ever been, and their window to achieve the ultimate goal closing, they will be aptly motivated to do whatever it takes to get back to the podium. It will be interesting to see who leads them into the games from a training perspective.
The Netherlands named Jeroen Delmee as their head coach leading into the 2023 World Cup of field hockey, and he’s supremely qualified to take the team to new heights. As a field hockey player himself, Delmee won two gold medals for the Dutch in the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. Delmee will be tasked with getting his players as mentally prepared for high level competition as physical, since their ability will need to shine through in the biggest moments.
The women’s field hockey team from Argentina is another squad to keep an eye on in the next year or so as we head closer to the Olympics. They were on the doorstep of bringing home the gold during the Tokyo Games, but came up just short against the women’s team from the Netherlands. Since that time, Argentina has played second fiddle to the Dutch women, as they are consistently second in the world rankings.
At the end of the day, everything Argentina does will be geared towards defeating the Netherlands, and they will feature some highly skilled players to that end. Agustina Albertarrio and Agustina Gorzelany were named two of the top female athletes in the sport just a couple of years ago, and Valentina Raposo received honors for being one of the best young players in field hockey. Mario Jose Granatto is also a force on the field, as she’s one of the best strikers in the world.
Much like the Netherlands male team above, no one is questioning the ability of the Argentinian women. They will just need to make a couple of plays during the most important moments of the match.
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