Tag Archives: Indian hockey

Hope India gets the chance to play international matches before the Asian Champions Trophy

Harpal Singh Bedi

Lalit Upadhyay

New Delhi: Ace striker Lalit Upadhyay has expressed hope  that Indian hockey team will get a chance to play a few international matches before competing in the Asian Champions Trophy (ATF).

“It’s perhaps the first time in many years that we don’t have a tournament around this time of the year in India. We are all hopeful that we will get to play a few international matches before we go to defend  the ATF  title.” Lalit told Hockey India.

Having been in the National Camp for over four months now, Lalit feels the Core Group has improved in fitness levels “While living in a bio-secure environment, without being allowed to go out of campus, for over four months has been extremely challenging,

” I feel this long camp has certainly helped us achieve good fitness levels and hit the same match-fitness and speed we were at during the start of the year when we played the  Pro League. 

“Some of us in the National Camp have been quite nostalgic recalling our past matches during this period and were feeling quite emotional about how far we have come on the international stage. 

‘We have successively improved performance since the 2014 Champions Trophy in Bhubaneswar and have been able to climb up the world rankings,” said Lalit y who was part of the squad. 

“It has been six years since that tournament but it still remains very fresh in our memories. Though most of us had played Hockey India League (HIL) matches in the Kalinga Stadium, the FIH Champions Trophy was the first international tournament we were playing there (in Bhubaneswar) and the  support by fans was absolutely amazing.”

“It was during this tournament that we got a sense of the passionate spectators there who were not just supporting for India but had turned up full-house for matches between different foreign teams as well. It was a great, fun-filled experience.”

“If I look back at how we played then in 2014 and how we play now as a team, I feel we have come a long way and have grown from strength-to-strength. We don’t choke in tense moments anymore and we have learnt to put up a fight-back if required.Our performance, particularly in the last two years, have been note-worthy, having achieved good success rate against top teams like Belgium, Netherlands and Australia,” he added. 

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Good showing in Tokyo will ensure more women take up the sport: Hockey Goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu

Harpal Singh Bedi 

Rajani Etimarpu (file photo – India Women’s Hockey Team v New Zealand, National Hockey Stadium, Rosedale, Auckland, New Zealand Monday 27 January 2020. Photo: Simon Watts/www.bwmedia.co.nz/HockeyNZ)

New Delh:  Experienced hockey goalkeeper Rajani Etimarpu  has opined that  good showing by the women’s team  in the Tokyo Olympics and at  the other  International tournament will attract  younger players to take up the sport professionally. 

“Doing well in the Tokyo Olympic Games will certainly lift the profile of the sport and it will certainly encourage more women to take up hockey.” said Rajani who was part of the Indian Team that participated in the 2016 Rio  Games. 

 “The recognition that the Indian Women’s Hockey has received in these past few years through various awards has already spurred participation of women in the sport and we are certain that through our good performance more women will feel that hockey can be a viable career option,”   she said

   Talking to Hockey India in Bengaluru, the seasoned goalkeeper said “I think the team has done remarkably well over the past four years. We have been able to up our level of performance against some of the best teams in the world and at the same time, we have also engaged in social causes like raising funds for the poor and needy during this pandemic.” 

” It feels great that our efforts on and off the field are being recognized. I am hopeful this will make more women take up the sport in the future,” she said . 

 The Indian women’s team was recently recognized with the Vogue Women of the Year 2020 award (sports category) for their philanthropic efforts to raise funds to feed over 1,000 families whose lives were affected due to the pandemic and series of nationwide lockdown.  

Speaking about the ongoing National Coaching Camp in SAI, Bengaluru, Rajani,who hails from Andhra Pradesh, said, “We have managed to improve our level of fitness in these past four months. It is important now to ensure we maintain this fitness when we return home for a break and ensure we follow all safety protocols. 

We were lucky that none of us in the Women’s Core Group tested positive after the break last time and hopefully we can maintain a clean slate this time as well,”

In the last four years, the Indian Women’s team has not only impressed with their performances but have also climbed up the FIH world ranking.

 Currently ranked world no.9, the team have won significant tournaments such as Asia Cup in 2017, Asian Champions Trophy in 2016 and they won a Silver medal in the 2018 edition of the Asian Champions Trophy.

 The team led by Rani also secured a berth for their second consecutive Olympic Games by winning the FIH Olympic Qualifiers in 2019, the first time in history that the team will participate in back-to-back Olympic Games.  . 

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Aim is to play for the country: Hockey midfielder Shamsher Singh

Harpal Singh Bedi

Shamsher Singh

 New Delhi:  Talented  midfielder  Shamsher Singh  says that  his aim is to play for the country and he is totally focused to get selected in the national hockey  squad.

The 23-year old from Attari who climbed the ranks in domestic hockey after honing his skills at the Surjit Singh Academy in Jalandhar, Punjab where several of his teammates come from. 

He made his senior India debut at the Olympic Test Event in Tokyo last year,”I have come from difficult background with my father making his living from farming. There were several odds that I faced in my initial days in hockey and the struggle for basics like stick, kit and shoes were real.” he told Hockey India in Bengaluru.

‘ believe this past experience helped me brace for any uncertain circumstances and this year we have all been put off gear with the pandemic but what’s important is to continue to stay focused on our goals no matter the odds,” 

Shamsher’s debut for the Indian team was quite memorable as they won the tournament by beating New Zealand 5-0 in the Final, a match in which he scored his first Senior Team goal for the country. He struck the 2nd goal for India in the 18th minute. 

The talented youngster played all four of India’s games – 6-0 win over Malaysia, 2-1 loss to New Zealand, 6-3 win against hosts Japan and 5-0 win against New Zealand in the Final. 

“I wanted to build on my game further and was hopeful of finding opportunities in key events that were to be held this year. But with the scenario changing due to the pandemic, I have realigned my focus to make the most of the situation by improving my basics and gain experience by closely working with seniors in the team. The learnings during this time has been of immense value,” he added. 

His  disappointment in 2016 when he missed out on making the team for the Junior World Cup was a turning point in his career, “I was part of the reserves but missed out on making the cut for the India squad that went on to win the coveted Junior World Cup. It was magical to watch the team lift the title in front of crazy hockey fans in Lucknow and watching the entire tournament from the sidelines only made me more determined to work hard and earn the India jersey.’ 

Now in the Senior Core probable group, my aim is to become a dependable player for the team and execute what’s expected of me from the Coach.” he added

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Forward Shilanand Lakra is focused to regain a place in the national Hockey team

Harpal Singh Bedi

Shailanand Lakra

New Delhi: For a talented  hockey forward  from  Sundargarh district of Odisha – Shilanand Lakra pandemic has  provided  an opportunity to focus on personal development  and he is  determined to make the most of this period. 

The young striker has been in and around the national team for the past couple of years, but has not managed to feature in many matches. He is now optimistic about his future.”The opportunity that the pandemic has provided me with is that I’ve had enough time to re-think and analyse what I’ve been doing these past two years, and what else I can do to progress in my career. I’ve also managed to speak to the coaching staff, and especially Chief Coach Graham Reid, who has helped me identify areas where I need to improve upon,” He told Hockey India.

“Obviously having made my debut for the Senior Team in 2018 at the 27th Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, I would have expected myself to play more than two tournaments in these two years, but that is how competitive the sport in our country has become. “We’ve got some amazing players in the Core Probables’ group, and my aim has always been to earn a place in the team through more consistent performances in domestic tournaments and in our National Camps,” he said. 

The leading scorer at the Sultan of Johor Cup in 2019, where he bagged 5 goals in 6 appearances, and helped the team win the Silver Medal, Lakra  opined  that goal-scoring is also something that he has focused on. 

“I think in my 12 International Caps, I haven’t been able to score, and as a Forward, goal-scoring is something you should constantly be working on, so that is what I’ve been trying to do. I’ve got some amazing and experienced players around me in the camp here, and I’m trying to take in as much information as I can, and also train myself to get better in all areas including goal-scoring”.

The 21-year-old youngster idolizes two of the best players his state has produced in Dilip Tirkey and current fellow Core Probable Birendra Lakra, and wants to emulate their longevity. 

“I think both of them have been exceptional in their respective journeys, and I get so much inspiration when I speak to them, and read about how the struggles they had to endure in order to get to the biggest stage.’ It is a marvellous achievement for both to have played so many years at the top level, and that longevity is something I would like to have in my career as well, and give back to my nation and my state in some way,” he added. 

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