TopOfTheCircle.com

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Dec. 4, 2016 — When junior field hockey is like an investment portfolio

On almost any piece of literature regarding banking and investment products, once sentence is printed near the bottom in small type:

“Past performance is no indication of future results.”

Given the placements after the 2016 Junior World Cup, this is certainly the case.

The current Olympic champions, represented by the England junior national team, are a team you might expect to do well in the Junior World Cup, no? The Lions finished seventh.

How about Korea, the winners of this very tournament in 2001 and 2005? This version of the U-20 national team finished 12th.

New Zealand, which took silver at the 2015 World League and made the Final Four of the last two Olympics, saw its junior national team finish a desultory 13th.

And for all of the successes that Argentina’s senior women’s national team has enjoyed since 2000, yesterday was the first time the Albicelestes have won a Junior World Cup since 1993.

You can speculate from here to Sunday what was going on with each of these teams, and whether their respective federations put a high enough priority on these teams as a development exercise versus a competitive exercise.

But each team develops in a different way. Field hockey is one of those sports in which it is difficult to predict whether a group of individual talents, or a talented overall team with no “star” players, will succeed in the end.

In a tournament situation with games every other day, I think it is much more difficult for the talented overall team to sustain its level of play over the course of two to three weeks. This is why, I think the natural talent of the finalists — Argentina and Holland — built those two teams, and those building blocks will progress to the senior level in due time.

 

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