– Focus on developing young talent in Mumbai
– Former India goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza primed for good show
New Delhi: Belgian star forward Tom Boon became the highest bid player of the Hockey India League as he was bought for USD 103,000 by new entrants ‘Dabang Mumbai’, owned by DoIT Sports Management (India) Pvt. Ltd, during the player closed-bid auction in New Delhi on Saturday.
‘Dabang Mumbai’, symbolize the fighting spirit of the Maharashtra region and an uninhibited ambition to play for victory. The team kept up their bullish approach has they had the second highest-bid player of the day, Matthew Swann, as well and have acquired most of the players on their wish list to build a quality core squad.
“Tom Boon is one of the biggest stars, one of the most complete stars in world hockey at the moment,” said Viren Rasquinha, the Mumbai team’s strategic advisor and mentor. “He is also a world class drag-flicker. We are happy with the balance of the team.”
Valentin Altenburg, current coach of the Germany under-21 team, is the head coach of the team and will bring an attacking German edge to the team. “We have players who have the potential to decide games,” said Altenburg. “We want to play enthusiastic offensive hockey, celebrate hockey while playing it.”
Striking the right balance between youth and experience, the newly minted team bagged 24 of the 42 players who went on bid on Saturday. They have in their ranks two of the most experienced players from India Arjun Halappa and Vikram Pillay and youngster Harmanpreet Singh, who was the top-scorer and player of the tournament at the recently concluded Sultan of Johor Cup.
Team owner Ms. Radha Kapoor, Director, DoIT Sports Management, sadi, “In line with our objective to build a strong hockey base in Mumbai we have picked 6 players from the region. We wanted to pick a team that holds the best mix of Indian and international talent from the bids pool, and I can safely say we have achieved 90% of that prerogative.”
The selections also meant a comeback opportunity for Adrian D’Souza and a golden chance for the former India goalkeeper to get back on the national radar.
“We have six core players from Mumbai,” said Anil Aldrin, former India Skipper and assistant coach of Dabang Mumbai. “One of our long-term strategies is to give chance to young Mumbai talent.
“We are delighted for Adrian D’Souza to be coming back. He was recently called back for the India camp as well. HIL is a great opportunity for Adrian to shine and get back into the national team. For the sake of Indian hockey, it is important that we have a strong second goalkeeper to give competition to Sreejesh (Raveendran).”
The other stand-out players from the city in Dabang Mumbai are midfielders Tyron Pereira, Rajat Sharma and defender Amit Gowda.