Eager to help Indian hockey get back on its feet, Australia on Wednesday pledged support in providing training and scholarships for budding players and coaches here.

Visiting Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced that starting next year, two players—a male and female—and a coach will get free training at the Institute of Sports and Hockey Facility in Perth.

“India is one of the premier hockey playing nations and we are sad that India failed to qualify for Beijing Olympics.

So, all the hockey playing nations, including Australia, want India to return to its historic place as a great hockey playing nation,” he told reporters after visiting the Major Dhyan Chand stadium and the Talkotra Stadium here.

Under the scholarship, the selected trio will get a two-week training stint at the Institute which has been in existence for the past 20 years.

“From next year, there will be three scholarships to help development of hockey. They will be imparted coaching and playing skills,” Smith said.

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