Concerned over security, Kiwi striker Simon Child has pulled out of the hockey World Cup starting Sunday, even though Hockey New Zealand (HNZ) said it was satisfied with the arrangements made by the Indian government.
Child said he took the decision because he felt he could not give his best under such heightened security environment during the February 28-March 13 mega-event.
“It’s not an ideal environment to be trying to play your best hockey and to be performing for your country,” he was quoted as saying from Perth by the New Zealand Press Association, a new agency.
“I think that was the major issue that swayed me when I made up my mind. It was extremely tough, probably the toughest decision I’ve had to make in my life.
“A big part of me of course wanted to go to the World Cup,” said the 21-year-old striker, who already has 119 international caps to his name in his five-year-old career.
Child travelled with the 18-member Black Sticks squad to Perth for practice games, including two Tests against Australia, in the run-up to the World Cup.
But the recent terror threats on foreign athletes visiting India during this year’s World Cup, Indian Premier League and Commonwealth Games has prompted the Aucklander to opt out of the tournament at the last moment.
New Zealand coach Shane McLeod admitted that security fears have made it difficult for his players to focus on the game.
“Just having a threat hanging in the background take its toll and I think, performance-wise, it has affect us,” he said.
“Also a decision like Simon’s is tough on the team. We do a lot of things together and to have one of us not with us is something we will have to work really hard to deal with.”
Respecting Child’s decision, HNZ said the Black Sticks would participate in the World Cup as they have received positive feedback on security from various agencies.
“The detail we have received has reassured us that the required level of security will be in place,” she said.
Poole said they have also been reassured by the New Zealand shooting team which is presently participating at the ongoing Commonwealth Championships in Delhi.