Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The players of minnows Wales have braved all the odds to take part in the ongoing FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela. The passion for hockey seems to be the tonic for the Wales players who have paid from their pockets to represent their national team in the marquee event.

In their country, the biggest hockey stadium can accommodate only 200 spectators. A player from the country has to shell out around 1000 pounds every year to play for the national team. In the process, a few diehard hockey players can only survive such hardships and cherish a passion for hockey.

Wales are making their World Cup debut in India and their journey was full of hardships. However, it could certainly serve as a motivating factor for others. The team had to resort to crowd-funding to raise 25,000 pounds to cover flights, accommodation and meals in the two host cities.

“Crowd-funding is part of the means to reduce the cost to the players. Players also contribute. Every player pays 1,000 pound per year to play for Wales. We have got a shirt sponsor now and this has reduced the cost on players a little bit,” said head coach Daniel Newcombe.

“Hockey is a small sport and only 200 people can only be accommodated in our national stadium,” he added.

As per team sources, funding for hockey from the government is limited in the country and the players had to contribute from their own pocket. But due to their recent successes by qualifying for bigger tournaments, they have got more trips and their government is extending a little bit of helping hand off late.

Wales qualified for the World Cup through the European qualifying event in Cardiff.

Despite all the hardships, the greenhorns want to make the opportunity count and prove the world that they are no pushovers. 

“We are determined to prove that we are not pushovers. We have not come here only to make up the numbers,” said coach Newcombe.