The minute he tweeted about his arrival at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar on Sunday, it became news. Floris Jan Bovelander – the man who turned the art of dragflicking into a weapon – is in the house at Hockey World League (HWL) Finals in Bhubaneswar, India.
Nicknamed Boem Boem Bovelander, long before Pakistan adopted the phrase to prefix Shahid Afridi in cricket, the Dutch stalwart overtook Jay Stacy’s innovation (dragflick) to win the 1990 World Cup and the 1996 Olympic gold for his country. Thereafter, he passed on the legacy to Pakistan legend Sohail Abbas. The rest followed.
In India, the dragflick tradition began with Jugraj Singh, who unfortunately had a curtailed career after he met an accident. Sandeep Singh became the next big thing and India rode on his skills to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. Since then, the likes of VR Raghunath, Rupinder Pal Singh and fast-improving Harmanpreet Singh have taken the skill forward in India.
“I think every country now has one good dragflicker,” Bovelander said. “But I look also at (performance in) big tournaments. Argentina are the reigning Olympic champions and Gonzalo Peillat scores a lot of goals. So let’s point at him at the moment as the best, and also Netherland’s Mink (van der Weerden).”
He said that being skillful isn’t adequate until that skill helps your team win big matches, which is relevant in the Indian context as the team hasn’t done well at the Olympics and World Cups for a long time now.
“India has a couple of good flickers. They are close to the top, but you have to score goals at the right moment. That makes you special and really good. It’s really important to score. No matter if you score 6 or 7 in league stage, you have to score in crunch games. If you do that, then you are good,” he explained.
The 51-year-old added that gone are the days when one or two teams used to dominate penalty corners with quality dragflickers up their sleeves.
“All the teams have good dragflickers at present. It’s good for hockey that not one or two country’s dominate penalty corners. This also means that all the teams should also have a good goalkeeper (to defend on penalty corners).”
Bovelander is visiting India for his project ‘One Million Hockey Legs’.
“I have arrived for my project. I have to go to Ranchi and Jharkhand for the programme, for the Tata Hockey Academy and the kids over there. We have some coaching courses and there’s a hockey festival. If I can combine it (my visit) with watching some top hockey, it’s great.”