Reaching Hockey India League final our first objective: Jaypee Punjab Warriors coach Barry Dancer
It has been a case of so near yet so far for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors in the Hockey India League.
The Punjab franchise twice came close to winning the league in the 2014 and 2015 editions but on both occasions, they were denied a shot at glory by the dreadful shootouts. At the 2014 edition, Jaypee Punjab Warriors lost to Ranchi Rays 1-3 in the shootout after both teams were tied 3-3.
Again at the 2015 edition, the Warriors twice held the lead over Ranchi Rays only to see the contest deadlocked at 2-2 in regulation time and in the subsequent shootout they lost 2-3. The 2016 edition will be a big opportunity for Jaypee Punjab Warriors to set the record straight.
“It’s a new season for us and I’m really happy to be back. Obviously, we want to do well but our first objective will be to make it to the final. We do realize that we have lost in the final in the last two editions of the Hockey India League,” says Jaypee Punjab Warriors head coach Barry Dancer, who is the only coach to have served in all four seasons of the HIL.
The 63-year-old Queenslander is fondly remembered for guiding the Kookaburras to their only Olympic gold medal finish at the 2004 Athens Olympics – he turned out for the Australian team in the seventies.
Dancer, who also had a coaching stint with Great Britain’s men’s hockey team, is looking forward to working together with Indian captain Sardar Singh. “Sardar is a class act. I’m really excited to be working with him. I’m confident he will fit into our scheme of things this season,” he said.
He is the third Australian coach in the 2016 Hockey India League, with Mark Hager and Jay Stacy coaching the Kalinga Lancers and Dabang Mumbai respectively.
“To be honest, at a personal level there is no competition between us. Both Jay and Mark played for the Kookaburras in the eighties and nineties, while I’m some years older to them. It’s also nice to see them take up coaching roles in a popular league as Hockey India League. I wish both them all the best for the 2016 HIL,” he signs off.