Parents play travelling fans

HockeyFamily members of Australia's junior team at the side's practice match against Germany on Wednesday.

Watching Australia's practice game against Germany from the stands is a rather boisterous group. That they aren't ordinary supporters is obvious from the fact that soon after the game ends, players jump into the stands where they look rather pleased as they get hugged and are generally fussed over.

This group of about 30, consisting of parents and other family members, has traveled with the team for the Junior World Cup. "We have a group of eight families who follow their sons when they play for the Australian team. There is one parent who is here though her son hasn't made the squad. So the support is not just for the players but for the team," says Brad Hayword whose elder son Liam plays for the senior Australian squad and the younger Jeremy is in the junior squad.

"Hockey is mostly a family sport in Australia. We have a lot of players whose parents have played at some level. My wife played 10 years for Northern Territories and Liam's parents Ann and Chris Noblett both have played for South Australia."

Australia isn't the only team to have family members over. The Argentinians expect around 15 family members to join them, the French four or five and the South Africans a couple. But the biggest contingent is from New Zealand with about 40 family members travelling to Delhi.

On Wednesday however, just midfielder George Muir's parents — David and Tammy Muir— had arrived, after a day's travel. The Muirs may have arrived a day before the other parents but all will be staying together. "Usually us parents travel together. We had a tour company in Australia approach us with a group rate. The problem is that since the team is named only about six weeks before the start of the tournament it gets more expensive. We then have to book our tickets at the last minute," says David.

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