Australian hockey legend Brent Livermore, who captains the Chennai Cheetahs in the ongoing Bridgestone World Series, says that he and his team are game for the challenges ahead
When we reach the hotel to interview Brent Livermore, the Australian hockey legend is having a massage, we hear. The 35-year-old captain of the Chennai Cheetahs team in the ongoing Bridgestone World Series hockey arrives quietly 20 minutes later — fresh and eager to face a volley of questions.
He answers every question patiently and prudently. Widely travelled, articulate and a true leader, Brent is an invaluable asset to the team as a midfielder. The former captain of Australia (he says, “I haven't retired”) feels the WSH schedule has been hectic, but adds that it's the challenging part.
“Yes, it's been hectic,” begins the Olympic gold medallist. “Back-to-back matches with the Delhi Wizards (away) and the Mumbai Marines (home) are tiring and take a toll on your body. But that's the deal. How we adjust to the schedule and give our best is the key,” he says.
A true professional that he is, Brent seldom complains. He seems to be enjoying his leadership role with the Chennai Cheetahs. Interacting with players from different countries, he emphasises, has been a refreshing experience. “Playing in WSH has been great fun so far,” he says. “It's been a learning experience — on and off the field — from rest, recovery and meetings to sticking to a routine and discussing the formation with the coach and players.”
Batting for WSH, Brent says it's by playing in leagues such as this that players learn how to compete under pressure. “The Australian men's team is No.1, not without a reason. Our players play in the Dutch league and the Spanish league. It makes you mentally tough,” he says.
One of the most capped players for Australia — he's played in 318 matches in a career spanning 13 years — Brent has played in two Olympics, 11 Champions Trophy tournaments, two World Cups, two Commonwealth Games, besides several other international tournaments.
Feather in his cap
Winning a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics as a captain will certainly be at the top of Brent's impressive CV. “The gold had been eluding us. It was an amazing experience. You only dream of it. It's not just because of training. You need everything — family support, patience from your side, no occurrence or recurrence of injuries and the support of fans,” says the veteran. “Chief” (as he is called in acknowledgement of his leadership qualities) says interactions with great coaches such as Terry Walsh, Ric Charlesworth and Barry Dancer have made him sharp and intelligent.
The Australian admits to being disappointed at not being part of the World Cup in New Delhi in 2010 which his team won. “I was hoping to be part of the team,” he says. “Even now, I am fit, but the selectors have ignored my performance and fitness level, and have instead preferred to look at my date of birth, which is sad. They (selectors) told me you are among the top 10 players in Australia, but we need to blood youngsters. It's difficult to accept that. My situation is the same as cricketer Simon Katich.”
Playing in WSH has reassured him that he indeed belongs to the best in the world. “We have a wonderful team with a good mix of youth and experience. I will be disappointed if Chennai Cheetahs doesn't reach the final,” says Brent, who is a big fan of Michael Jordan, Muhammed Ali, Lance Armstrong and Roger Federer for their continued success in their chosen sport.