FIH speak to top player from Canada, Egypt, Japan and Austria about their experience so far at the Hockey World League Semi-Final event in Buenos Aires.
For some of the lower-ranked teams, the Argentina Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Buenos Aires are the pinnacle of their achievements so far but, as FIH.ch learnt, these are players that mean business. We spoke to Amr Elhady (Egypt), Scott Tupper (Canada), Kenji Kitazato (Japan) and Benjamin Stanzl (Austria) about their experience in Buenos Aires, how it feels to play the top seeds in the world, what they can learn from the higher-ranked teams and what the event means for hockey in their country.
FIH.ch: How do you feel having played against one of the top teams in the world?
Amr Elhady: This is a very good preparation for the Africa Cup held in Egypt later this year. We hope to beat our rivals South Africa to qualify for the Olympic Games.
Scott Tupper: This is hugely important for us. We want to get better by playing the top nations in the world. The last time we were in the same tournament as Germany and the Netherlands was at the 2010 World Cup. To participate in those tournaments more frequently, we need to beat the teams ahead of us to move forward.
Kenji Kitazato: This is a good chance and a good opportunity for us to develop our game.
Benjamin Stanzl: This is something very special. We are looking forward to playing all these games; playing against Germany or Argentina in the pool stage is definitely something special.
FIH.ch: What can you learn from this type of experience?
Elhady: Sure, we can learn a lot. This is why we are here.
Tupper: We probably don’t have the skills to do the same as some of the top nations do but we can take some aspects which we think can be incorporated to our game. Hopefully this will pay off for us and we will be successful.
Kitazato: The top nations have very good skills and they are tough to play, they also have good tactics and, of course, we like to improve by playing them.
Stanzl: Definitely. We are doing a lot of video analysis and especially the younger players in our team can benefit from watching what the top nations do. We are happy to play at this level.
FIH.ch: What does this mean for hockey in your country?
Elhady: This is very important for us and also for our federation because it gives us more exposure and experience against the top countries.
Tupper: It is very important for us, too. In Canada, funding is usually dictated by how you do in the world rankings, so good results in tournaments such as the World League Semi-Final would potentially mean more funding for our sport. Canada is very professional sport-dominated. If we can get Canada back into the Olympics we probably can get more kids playing the game, new sponsors will hop on board and we can develop the game back home.
Kitazato: It is a great experience for us being here. Back home people are following what we do here, getting an Olympic ticket would be a huge success because it would make hockey even more popular in Japan.
Stanzl: The support we receive from home is phenomenal. The hockey fans in Austria are following us, I am sure the sport of hockey in Austria can benefit from our experience.