Ranked world number 15 in the FIH rankings, the South African men's hockey maybe not be amongst the favorites to lift the trophy, but that didn't stop them from living their dream of representing their country at the World Cup.
The sport is not fervently followed or played like cricket is in their country. The players from South Africa have had to face many struggles in order to pursue the sport that isn't very popular back at home.
And one of them includes them having to pay from their own pockets to just be the 18-day mega event which kicks off in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday. The South Africa coach Mark Hopkins said the biggest hurdle for the growth of the game in the country is the lack of funds.
"The more hockey South Africa plays the better it is. But our challenge is to get the funding in place to allow us to compete in as many Test matches we possibly can," Hopkins told PTI on the eve of his side's opener against hosts India.
"We are coming into the World Cup with players needing to pay from their own pocket. They paid to be part of the camps. Our challenge is to get the funding in place. We are lucky to have a few sponsors but the sponsorships we have don't really cover the budget of the World Cup. "We currently have a shortfall at the moment and if we don't get to cover that shortfall, then there is a possibility the players might also have to pay for the World Cup trip," he added.
South Africa are scheduled to begin their campaign against world ranked fifth India in the tournaments' curtain raiser. With a tough task at their hands, coach Hopkins still remains optimistic of his team's chances.
"Every game at the World Cup is a big match. You try to start the tournament as well as you can. It's exciting that we are playing our first match against the host nation. We will go into the game fairly confident. We feel we have the squad, skill set and tactics to play really good hockey and get results from the match," he said.
"I think the pressure is on both sides. Being the host nation there is more pressure on India than us. We will just go out there and play the brand of hockey that is successful for us." Hopkins said his side's goal coming into the tournament is to become the most successful South African hockey playing nation in the history of the World Cup.
"We are a proud sporting nation and as a group we are looking to create history. The goal for us is to finish the tournament as the most successful South African hockey team in the men's World Cup," he said.
"We probably are a team that opposition has seen less videos off. People know less about our players because we don't play much in the European leagues or Test matches than other nations. That is an advantage for us," Hopkins added.