Process-driven Belgium land in Bhubaneswar  

Express News Service

CHENNAI:  ‘Process’ has become one of the most abused of words in all of sport. It’s become the go to phrases for all sports sides who are aiming to grow holistically, organically. One of the first hockey teams that prioritised process over results — Belgium — reaped the benefits over a trophy laden last 3-4 years. European champions, world and Olympic champs. 

But they have showed no signs of resting on their laurels. With less than 16 months to go for the next World Cup — Belgium can become the first men’s team to achieve the rare treble of defending the World Cup whilst being Olympic holders — the Red Lions are looking into how they can regenerate parts of their senior squad whilst maintaining the core that delivered gold in Tokyo. 

It’s in this background that they have arrived in Bhubaneswar for the junior World Cup, slated to begin at the Kalinga Stadium from November 24. Five summers ago, in the biting Lucknow winter in December, the junior Red Lions reached the final. 

Head coach, Jeroen Baart, was intimate when he spoke about the ‘process’ during a pre-tournament press conference. “People around us (the hockey federation as well as support staff of the senior squad) are following the tournament,” he said. “They are following the processes the boys are going through to see if they can take that next step.”   

While performances in the junior setup can only be a reference point and need not be a major indicator for performances with the seniors, how they react to pressure is a decent marker. That’s only reason why the likes of De Sloover, Kina and Wegnez caught the eye in 2016. Meanwhile, India’s junior, who are training in the city for more than three weeks, will play their first freindly on Friday against US.

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