Hockey World Cup 2023: Aussie family watches brothers turn rivals for title
After a missed flight and a delay of a couple of days, the Hayward family reached Bhubaneswar just in time to watch their younger son Jeremy score hat-trick for Australia in the Hockey World Cup.
After a missed flight and a delay of a couple of days, the Hayward family made reached Bhubaneswar just in time to watch their younger son Jeremy score the first hat-trick for Australia in the Hockey World Cup at the Kalinga stadium on Friday.
"We are glad to come here. It was a long flight from Perth, but it was worth it," says Brad, Jeremy's father.
It was the perfect start for Australia, who hammered France 8-0 in their opener, with Jeremy scoring three goals.
But for the Hayward family, the World Cup is more special as both the sons will be playing the marquee event for the first time.
The catch, however, is that one plays for Australia while the other represents New Zealand.
It is not uncommon in hockey for siblings to play alongside. From Dhyan Chand and Roop Chand to Prabodh and Ignace Tirkey, there are ample 'duos' in India and abroad to have represented the team.
What makes the Hayward brothers – Jeremy and Leon, different is that they play for different nations.
Like Jeremy, Leon too had first represented Australia. In fact, Leon made his debut in a test series against India in 2014 and also represented the Kookaburras at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in 2015.
However, he decided to switch to the Black sticks after he didn't get a selection call from Australia and made his debut for New Zealand in 2019. The switch was possible owing to his mother, who has her roots in New Zealand.
Though the Hayward brothers have played against each other on previous occasions, including the Tokyo Olympics where Australia finished second, this is the first time both will be playing the against each other in a World Cup. Obviously, their parents who have travelled from Australia are elated.
"It is hard to celebrate the victory when you have got one in each team. But it has been like that throughout the career, when one would be selected and the other wouldn't. Leon, when he was younger, was getting a lot of opportunities and Jeremy was missing out. Now, Jeremy is now getting a lot of credit," the father told The Bridge.
On Friday, as the final hooter went off and Australia celebrated their win over France by acknowledging the crowd, Jeremy spotted his parents and stopped for a brief chat with his parents before speaking to the media.
"They are here and got a chance to watch the first game. They try to get to as many tournaments as they can. But it is a bit difficult. Hockey is all over the world. They are happy to come here for the World Cup," Jeremy said.
While Australia has already kick-started its World Cup campaign and will face Argentina next, the Black sticks will play debutants Chile in their opening match of the tournament on Saturday.
"I wish him (Leon) luck and will watch the match on television for sure," Jeremy added.