With at least three players each from the England and Netherlands hockey teams falling ill with “stomach issues”, England’s chief coach Bob Crutchley has said the situation is “far from ideal”, ahead of his team’s quarterfinal match against Olympic champions Argentina at the World League Final on Thursday. Both the teams are staying at the Mayfair Lagoon. With the tournament acting as a dress rehearsal for next year’s World Cup which will be played here, the issue has left the organisers embarrassed.
Odisha Sports Secretary Vishal Dev said food safety teams have been sent to all the hotels where the eight participating countries have been put up, and a daily check of the kitchens and supplies is being conducted. “The issue came to my knowledge earlier this week. We have asked our food safety team to conduct a daily check of the kitchen and the ingredients. It started on Tuesday, and will be done in every hotel where the teams are staying,” he said.
Netherlands captain Seve van Ass said three of his teammates — Thijs van Dam, Joep de Mol and Pirmin Blaak — were down with “stomach issues” because of “something in the food”. England, too, have three players down — David Ames, Harry Martin and Brendan Creed. “We’ve got a number of players ill,” said Crutchley. “They missed the first game and we are not entirely sure why. There are other teams in our hotel who’ve got the same problem. Our doctor is concerned for the health of players and we are trying our best to ensure players don’t get it.”
But the hotel tried to play down the issue. “No team has complained to us. We are not aware of any such issue,” said Pradipta Mahapatra, general manager (sales), Mayfair Lagoon. Crutchley, an Olympian, said the illness has severely impacted his team’s performance. “It’s certainly not ideal, particularly with the physical exertion required in international hockey. For all the preparation, if two-three players are out, it makes a big impact on the entire squad,” he said. “We’re hopeful we will have our players back by the quarter-final. If we start to lose more, then it will become really difficult.”
A source confirmed the England team was affected by a stomach bug.
Van Ass, the Netherlands captain, said the team was facing a similar predicament. “Unfortunately, we are not fully healthy. They have stomach issues, something in the food. In our last group match, we played 14 instead of 18 (fourth player has an ankle injury),” he said. “I hope nothing will happen further in the tournament.” It is learnt that the Argentine team, too, has faced similar issues, with at least one player missing a match due to illness. However, Dev blamed it on the players ordering pizzas from a restaurant.
“We are focusing just on basic hygiene and trying to keep the surroundings clean. If someone falls ill, we separate them from the group quickly so that it doesn’t get passed around. We are doing everything we can, but it’s certainly not ideal for us,” said Crutchley.
During their last visit here, for the 2014 Champions Trophy, the Dutch players were ordered to stay away from the swimming pool, carried disinfectant gels and did not drink cappuccino. The team’s manager, Ronald Brouwer, said they do not have such strict measures in place this time. “But we have told them to avoid tap water, not have ice cubes and use disinfectants and sanitisers,” he said.