Pitch Perfect

League

They are the Ronaldos and Lionel Messis of their universe. The cream of international hockey players is currently in India to take part in the Hockey India League (HIL). Here are the stars and their stories.

'Hockey is a family sport. You play it because you love it'

Jamie Dwyer I 33 (Australian midfielder)

HIL team: Punjab Warriors

Jamie Dwyer has been voted the world's best player five times. Yet, he likes being told he is not good enough. Perhaps that explains why the 33-year-old is still among the best, if not the best.

Dwyer personifies the aggression and never-say-die attitude that define Australia's sportsmen. Over the last decade, he has evolved from being an impact striker to a midfield general with excellent playmaking abilities who controls the pace of the game at will. "I want to win more," he says. "I have won every top competition in my sport — Olympic gold (Athens, 2004), the World Cup (2010), Champions Trophy (2012) — but I just want to keep on winning medals and keep on getting better. There's so much more that I, and the team, can achieve."

It's this relentless approach that has helped him win the FIH (Fédération Internationale de Hockey sur Gazon) player of the year award in 2004, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and has helped Australia win a dozen international titles. Dwyer's presence in the dressing room is infectious. A character like him lifts you up, pushes you to go the extra mile. "He's always looking for feedback; always on the quest to improve," says his former Australia coach Barry Dancer. The Dancer-Dwyer combination helped the Kookaburras win their maiden Olympic hockey gold at Athens. Dwyer's extra time goal in 2004 finally ended Australia's Olympic jinx which had consigned them to three silvers and three bronzes despite decades of dominance.

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