Legendary Dutch midfielder Teun De Nooijer feels that the Hockey India League will be a "game changer" for sport in India as it can help the eight-time gold medal winners regain their past glory.
"The league is really important for India. It would be a Game-Changer for the country. It will change the Indian hockey for good. It will also act as a game changer as the game is popular in India," De Nooijer told PTI in an exclusive interview.
The double Olympic gold medallist and three-time 'FIH Player of the Year' award winner feels that Indian youngsters will gain vital exposure due to this league.
"The Indian team has done well in Champions Trophy as well as the Asian Champions Trophy. A top tie league like HIL will only help the youngsters in this country get better by playing alongside the greats of the game," De Nooijer elaborated.
De Nooijer feels that the Indian players can learn from the stars of the top countries like Australia, Germany and The Netherlands.
"I think it's always good to learn. Look around and see what are they doing in Australia, Germany and The Netherlands. That will be a case in this league because a lot of players from these countries will be playing in this league. That will give the Indian hockey a lot of information about how they can improve themselves. I think it will be good for Indian hockey," he said.
De Nooijer, one of the three brand ambassadors of HIL, who will play for the Uttar Pradesh Wizards, said that his franchise has a good combination of youth and experience.
"We have a good mix of India and foreign players. We have some experienced players from India as well. We are trying to understand each others' language. We are practising really hard. We have to see from the first game as to how's everyone doing. Every game will be close and exciting to watch," he stated.
"I am thinking of HIL at the moment. I am still a player, still play hockey for my club. Firstly, I have to finish as a player and then I'll have a look at it," he said.
Nooijer's 18-year-long career saw him becoming the highest-capped player in the world who represented The Netherlands in 453 international matches before retiring from international hockey.
"I am proud of everything that I have achieved in my career. That I have achieved as a team player, as an individual. I am proud of my career. I am just enjoying the game. I still enjoy every practice and every game at the highest level. That's what counts the most."
"If you really enjoy it, keep yourself fit by having a good food, good rest to perform well again the next day. It's the reason why my body is still good enough to play at the highest level," he signed off.