By Andy O'Brien
25 August, 2000
Sydney: If India happen to face Australia in the Olympic
hockey tournament in Sydney, it would be apt to recall how Australia's rich
hockey tradition owes a great deal to India.
The reason behind this is the contribution made by the
dozens of Indian-born hockey players and coaches, who contributed to the game
here after they migrated from their homeland to make Australia their country of
Specifically prominent has been the contribution made by the
Anglo Indian community, which in India produced the likes of Leslie Claudius and
Richard Allen and other great Anglo-Indian hockey players.
In fact, when India faced Australia in the semi-finals of
the 1960 Olympics in Rome, it was a unique occasion. The captains who came face
to face were both Anglo-Indians, Claudius and Kevin Carton. Australia's current
first choice centre half Paul Gaudion is continuing that Anglo Indian
contribution to Australian hockey.
The 25-year-old Western Australian school teacher was born
in Australia but has an Anglo-Indian father (originally from Madras) and a
British mother. 'Gooders,' as he is nicknamed by his teammates, has a natural
talent for hockey, which, together with his sensational skills, he says is
probably got from his Indian heritage, like his love for curries and Indian
Many of his teammates tease him that he has got his flexible
wrists from his Indian heritage. Gaudion is one of the senior most members of
the Australian team and much of Australia's chances to break the bogey of
Olympic gold will depend on his performance in the pivotal centre half position.
One of Gaudion's career highlights was when he visited the
city his father was born in and grew up in - Madras - to represent Australia in
the 1997 Champions Trophy. Unfortunately, hockey wise it was not a good
experience with Australia finishing in their worst ever position at the
Champions Trophy. What does Gaudion think of Indian hockey?
Well he feels that the Indian team has to back up their ball
skills with improvements in areas such as penalty corners, trapping, possession
and converting opportunities. "Their performance here when they last came to
Australia in April -May must do their confidence a great deal of good,
especially their win here in the Perth Four Nation."
"We have to back ourselves. And I'll be happy for the Indian
team to win the silver, as long as we win the gold," he says with a laugh. In
fact, the whole Gaudion family has made a great contribution to hockey in
Western Australia with the three sons playing top-level hockey and their father
a renowned coach.