A group of 17 Welsh supporters say that a lack of hotel accommodation in Rourkela has forced the hardened party to reserve rooms 100 miles away in Ranchi and take an overnight train to attend matches. Rob Furlong, one of the Welsh supporters travelling to India, told The Hockey Paper: “It’s been interesting. We realised very quickly that Rourkela didn’t offer hotels.”
Wales will make history by playing their first ever men’s World Cup match against England on Jan 13 – the first major international at the new Birsa Munda International Hockey Stadium – before taking on Spain two days later. This is followed by their final group game against hosts India in Bhubaneswar.
The Welsh group booked flights independently to Delhi and then looked into a tour company to arrange internal transfers, given that Rourkela has yet to have a functional airport. “It’s been a bit of a nightmare,” added Furlong. “But it will be great when we get there, I’m sure!”
Furlong said that he didn’t know of any English supporters travelling to the World Cup, while his experiences of booking travel and tickets indicates that there will likely be limited attendance from overseas fans.
The Welsh also had difficulty gaining access to the ticket hub to be seated together, while the contingent – made up mainly of relatives of the Welsh squad – haven’t been given player family tickets through the FIH.
“The transport between the venues isn’t great,” said Furlong. “I don’t know why the FIH have gone for two venues.”
Furlong said that the Welsh party had ontacted the FIH but without response. They now face a journey time of four hours each way just to attend games. For the opening game against England, they will even have to leave before the second game featuring hosts India.
“I think we will only be able to watch the Wales v England game,” added Furlong.
“It will be great to experience the home crowd but that’s my feeling as it’s four hours back we will probably have to watch the one game.”
They also face queues at the stadium, with rules indicating that fans have to redeem tickets from confirmation emails once on the ground in India.
An FIH spokesperson told THP: “We sincerely regret the disappointment of the Wales’ families and fans regarding the ticketing and accommodation. These two matters are always entirely under the responsibility of the host, in this case Hockey India.”
In relation to ticketing, the FIH said they had been in contact with Hockey India and a “satisfactory solution has already been found” and all Wales spectators have been offered seats together.
“The ticketing agency had to make changes to the sitting relocation plans but now all Wales’ spectators have been offered sits together,” the FIH said.
Hockey India and FIH have been following up directly with the Wales’ supporters regarding the ticketing and accommodation matters and are waiting for feedback to finalise arrangements.
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