You’re back in India for the Hockey India League (HIL). Excited?
Yes, very excited. It’s good to be here and be a part of this competition again. The stadium in Mohali is outstanding and I’m looking forward to playing.
Your team, the Punjab Warriors, finished fourth last year. What do you think lacked in the team and what are the aspects you’ve worked on since?
Last year was difficult for us because we had a lot of travel and a few injuries that really hurt us.
Finishing fourth was disappointing and we hope to finish better this year. We have a few new players that have strengthened our squad and being based in Chandigarh means a lot less travel.
A lot of Indians, especially juniors, shone through the league and have since become a part of the Indian team. That’s the biggest advantage of the league, isn’t it?
Yes, this is a huge advantage for Indian players. I also think it’s great for juniors to watch the competition and learn from really good players and one day want to play for their favourite team in the HIL.
Talking of the Indian team, they dominated the Australians for a brief period in the recently-concluded HWL and even defeated Germany, a first since 2004. Do you see an improvement in the team?
Yes, I do see a gradual improvement in the Indian team. I still believe they have a long way to go before being in the top-four teams in the world but it’s definitely possible.
India’s new coach, Terry Walsh, seems to be making an impact, going by their recent show. Do you think he is the right man for the long-term growth of Indian hockey?
I think Terry Walsh is a very good coach. My first two years in the Australian Institute of Sport was when Terry was coach of the Australian team and he’s well respected in Australia and around the world. I think he is the right man for the job and Indian players can learn a lot from him.
Walsh feels it will take another 10-12 months for India to reach the level of the top teams. Is that a fair assessment?
It all depends on how much they improve. There is not much difference in the top-10 teams in the world and all the little one per cents make a difference.
A lot has been debated about what style of hockey suits India best. Michael Nobbs tried to go the Aussie way, while his predecessors wanted to instil the European style. Walsh has spoken of retaining the Indian style. Your views...
India definitely need their own style. They need to learn from other countries but they must adapt a style that suits the Indian culture and something they feel comfortable playing. At the moment the players look confused about their style.
Where do you see the Indian team a year from now in terms of rankings?
It’s so hard to say. I think in world hockey you have three top teams in the world and then eight teams behind them that are all so very close. For India to do well, they need to get fitter, faster, better basic skills and need to learn how to play outside India.
A lot of younger guys like Mandeep Singh and Manpreet Singh are playing a key role in the senior team. Must be good for the future, isn’t it?
Mandeep and Manpreet are very good hockey players. They have taken their chance in the national team and are playing really well. I think there are a number of talented young players here in India.
You have an online coaching website. How can the game be learnt online?
My online coaching business (DwyerOnline) is going really well. Everyone is online now and I thought it was about time that players, young or old, can learn hockey on the internet. It teaches you the basic skills and how to execute each skill to perfection. There are coaching exercises on the website and goal-keeping packages as well. So I tried to cover all aspects of hockey. Not only does it have hockey but also gym program, stretching and diet.
So coaching seems to excite you. Any plans to coach India maybe sometime in the future?
When I retire from playing I would definitely like to coach. Coaching the Indian team is possible but first maybe I would like to coach in the HIL. It’s definitely in my future plans.
Finally, can the Punjab Warriors win it this time?
If we play an aggressive style of hockey and play to the standard we want to, we will have a chance of playing in the final.
Achievements with Australia
Gold: 2004 Athens
Bronze: 2008 Beijing
Bronze: 2012 London
Gold: 2010 New Delhi
Silver: 2006 Monchengladbach
Silver: 2002 Kuala Lumpur
FIH Player of the Year: 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 & 2011
Full name: Jamie Dwyer
Born: March 12, 1979, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia
Playing position: Forward.