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Big win breaks barrier for Belgium and hockey (12/18/2018)
--s2h Team
What Belgium achieved on the Kalinga turf was historic. They beat two former champions on successive days to lift their maiden World Cup. What the achievers got in return on arriving home was even more historic, not only for the national team but also for the very profile of sport of hockey. Much like Ireland's women hockey team, whose entry into the final of the Vitality Women's Cup, aroused a nationwide celebrations, the Red lions too got the same vibes generated at home after Bhubaneswar breakthrough.

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The Red Lions were only the sixth nation to annex the field hockey's most coveted title.

The team returned home, and got hitherto unheard of welcome in public places, and King's place. Thomas Briels' dream received such a grand welcome that it opens big vista for the sport of hockey in the Europe.

Hockey is always striving for such a path breaking show. Belgium's fine win in Odisha World Cup and the glorious reception the team got, augurs well for the sport that mostly survives under the shadow of other sports.

Its interesting to note whether Australia, Germany or The Netherlands would have got such a grand reception as that of Belgium had they won the cup last Sunday. Definitely not. Except in the Indian subcontinent, where field hockey success attracts such mass appeal, people don't respond in a massive way. undefined

(Pics: Screen shots of www.vrt.be)
Australia and Germany won the World Cup hockey crown twice and The Netherlands thrice. Their successes did enthuse hockey clubs and families but nationwide celebrations were never heard of.

In the first week of last August, members of the Irish women's hockey team got their medals pictured on stage on Dame Street and then a massive reception was held at City Hall, Dublin.

Belgium men won silver at the Rio Olympic games, where winners Argentina too could generate lasting impression for the sport in Pan-America. It was however noticed the Red Lions were poised for big, and it had happened at Kalinga turf in two years from Rio.

The Belgium team, whose seeds of success has been sown a decade ago, with the import of foreign coaches from 2005, have been making waves in the traditional hockey powers, and now is ranked World Number one team in the FIH hierarchy.

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According to various reports, the Belgium team was honoured by their Air Force with a four plane fly past. On landing the victorious team was given a meeting with King Philiop and Queen Mathilde. the icing on the cake of course was the grand reception accorded to them at Brussel's Market Square where they displayed the Cup and danced to tunes.

They deserved every bit of adulation that come their way.

(Pic by s2h photographer Rakesh)
Belgium was in Pool C along with India, Canada and South Africa. It beat Canada 2-1, South Africa 5-1 and drew India 2-2. India topped the pool ahead of Belgium. It had to therefore play a cross-over where it beat 4-times champions Pakistan 5-0.

Belgium warded off the tough challenge of Germany in the quarterfinal, and then went on to maul England 6-0 in the semifinal. Final against The Netherlands was a touch and go affair, but it overcame the task with a clinical performance at Shoot out.

Belgium in fact defeated two former champions and drew two others to become only the sixth nation to win the Cup.

The feat being so Herculean in task, they deserve all the adulation.

The Market Square video available at https://sporza.be/nl/matches/hockey/2018-12/huldiging-red-lions-in-brussel/

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