Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Ellie Hayward was over the moon when his younger son Jeremy Hayward struck a hat-trick to help Australia register a dominating 8-0 victory over hapless France in a Pool A match of the ongoing FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Friday.

Jeremy is not the only player to make Ellie proud in the marquee event. Her elder son Leon Hayward is also playing as the goalkeeper for the New Zealand team.

Ellie and her husband Brad Hayward have come all the way from Australia to support their sons and their teams in the grand event.

As per Elie, both the brothers have played national-level tournaments for Australia. However, Leon got a chance to play international hockey for the Kiwis as she herself is from New Zealand.

The family has a craze for hockey flowing in their blood. Elie, who works as a technician, was a state-level hockey player.

“Both the brothers got inspired by me to play hockey from their childhood. I am so proud that both of them are now playing international hockey for two different countries. It’s a kind of double delight for me as my unfulfilled dream has been fulfilled by both of my sons,” said an elated Elie.

However, Elie is a little bit worried as she can’t go to Rourkela to watch her elder son in action.

“Rourkela is far away from Bhubaneswar. We are all prepared for Kalinga Stadium and we will leave for Australia in a few days. I can’t watch my elder son Leon in action at the grand event in Rourkela. Hopefully, we will be able to watch him play at Kalinga Stadium,” said the 56-year-old lady.

Elie recalled that both her sons along with the family members have to struggle pretty hard to pursue hockey.

“There is not much money involved in hockey. Both Jeremy and Leon have to work hard to pursue their passion. While Leon is working as a school teacher, Jeremy is working as an accountant to earn a living. They also found it hard to manage leaves from their workplaces to play in the World Cup in Odisha,” she said.

Elie cherishes a dream as a passionate hockey lover and a proud mother of two international hockey players.

“I wish my two sons Leon and Jeremy to play against each other in the World Cup. That will be really an incredible experience for them and me as well,” she said in jest.

While Elie is effusive in her praise of the facilities in Kalinga Stadium, she has one complaint also.

“When the matches are being played in the afternoon, it’s too hot to seat in the open galleries of Kalinga Stadium. The heat is unbearable for us. But, it’s really unfortunate that we are not allowed to carry water bottles with us,” she said.

“We are hockey-crazy people. We are civilized enough to have a sense of sporting spirit not to throw bottles at the players from the stand. The security people even took away my pen which is not acceptable,” she signed off.