New Delhi: At this year's Coal India Hockey India League (HIL), as many as seven Dutch hockey players will be seen vying for top honours for their respective teams. For the Netherlands' Captain Robert van der Horst, who will be playing in the Coal India HIL for the first time, leagues similar to HIL and the Dutch League are instrumental in order to raise the level of competition at the world stage. "There are not too many professional leagues in the world at the moment. I believe the Coal India HIL is a pioneer in this platform and I hope to see more such leagues come up in the future," expressed the Dutch defender ahead of his arrival to India. Horst will be part of Jaypee Punjab Warriors and will be joining the team's camp in Chandigarh on 17 January.
He emphasized that professional leagues are the way forward as it helps in bringing great exposure to younger players. "I think the Coal India HIL is the best league in the world together with the Dutch league. Every international top player wants to play in these kinds of leagues. If we can bring the top player to the league then the young boys will get a lot of experience. The benefits the league brings to players is great and the young boys will gain a lot of experience apart from monetary benefits," he adds.
At this year’s Coal India HIL, van der Horst is keen on finding out how much this league will make an impact to their game. “I wanted to play the Coal India HIL in the last years as well but because of the birth of my children I was not able to come. I watched some games over the last year and I would really like to see how much impact the league brings to hockey in India and in my home country as well,” states the Dutch Captain who was recruited by Jaypee Punjab Warriors for USD 43,000.
“I saw the matches Jaypee Punjab Warriors played last year and I believe they are a great team with a good mix of quality,” feels Horst about the defending Champions.
Horst, who led the Dutch team to a fourth place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is hopeful of helping the defending Champions retain the title this year. “For this year’s Coal India HIL I would like to help the team wherever I can and hope that we can make an amazing journey," he adds.
Robert van der Horst is also looking forward to working with some of the younger players at the Coal India HIL. He says, "I personally enjoy working with younger players and as the Captain of the Dutch team, I see it as a part of my job. If I don't feel a sense of responsibility, the fun is gone for me. I like to make the youngsters around me better players and better people.”