Agustin Mazzilli, who was part of the Argentine national team that won the Gold medal at Rio Olympics, has stated that the upcoming Hockey India League (HIL) will play an instrumental role in bringing players of various culture and different styles of play together on one platform.
"I think the Coal India HIL is one tournament which every international player wants to play. At this moment, it is the most professional league in the world and personally for me, one of the most amazing attributes of the Coal India HIL is the way players from everywhere, with different cultural backgrounds come together, connect with each other and play. I really enjoy being here every time," Mazzilli expressed.
The 27-year-old also said that despite football dominating the scene in Argentina, hockey is catching up and their win at the Olympics has gone a long way in doing it. He attributes much of their country's success in hockey to their culture of playing football at a young age.
Argentina won their first ever Gold medal at the Olympics after defeating Belgium 4-2 in the final of men's hockey.
"I think football is the common sport to begin with in Argentina. In my case, I was playing football, hockey and rugby until I was 13 when I decided to shift focus to hockey," says the midfielder who will be part of the Uttar Pradesh Wizards in this year's HIL tournament.
It is because of this culture of playing football that many coaches in hockey adapt to some of the tactics used on the football field.
"Most of the hockey players in Argentina also love football. Since the time we were kids, we watch a lot of football and start to understand tactics and styles of playing at a very young age. Today a lot of hockey coaches are working in football.
They set the perfect example of how both sports has grown together learning from each other," adds the midfielder ,who played a key role in Argentina's route to Olympic Gold by beating Spain and Germany in the knockout stage.
Moving forward in this new Olympic cycle, Mazzilli insisted that he looks forward to playing with his compatriots from the junior national squad which finished fifth in the recently held Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men Lucknow 2016.
"I saw big performance from the junior team but I also know how hard they have trained for the last three years. I hope we can mix both teams to form the best team for the upcoming Olympic Games in Tokyo where we defend the Gold medal," he concluded.
Uttar Pradesh Wizards play their first match of the season against Dabang Mumbai on January 24 in Mumbai.(ANI)