New Delhi, 1st August, 2023: The Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain Harmanpreet Singh and Vice Captain Hardik Singh talked about the team’s preparations for the upcoming important tournaments including the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 which will be followed by the Hangzhou Asian Games, where the Indian team will be competing for direct qualification of the Paris Olympic Games 2024.
In the latest episode of Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series launched by Hockey India, Harmanpreet Singh and Hardik Singh stressed the significance of special camps conducted by Goalkeeping Coach Dennis van de Pol from the Netherlands, as well as the appointment of mental health conditioning coach Paddy Upton, ahead of crucial tournaments.
“It is really important. When you get to learn from someone who has tons of experience, it makes a huge difference. We have had good sessions in Bengaluru with Paddy and Dennis. These have helped us a lot as a team.”
“The next two months are very important for us. At the Hero Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023, we have this opportunity of playing quality matches before the Hangzhou Asian Games. It will be a good experience for the players. We have to make sure that we execute our strategies that we have worked on and I am sure that the tournament will be helpful for the players,” the Captain added.
The upcoming Asian Champions Trophy which is a marquee event in the Asian Hockey Federation’s calendar is being held in India for the first time. Incidentally, Chennai is a very special venue for the India Captain as he was spotted by the then High-Performance Director of Hockey India Roelant Oltmans during the Hockey India Junior National Championships. “I remember when the junior squad was to be announced in 2015, I was in Chennai playing the nationals, which we won. At that point of time, Roelant Oltmans was there to see the matches and we were playing the final against Haryana. After that, I got called up for the national camp and then made my senior debut in the same year. The place holds a special place in my heart. I am very excited to go back there and play.”
Meanwhile, Hardik Singh expressed his thoughts about international matches returning to Chennai after 16 long years. The last time Chennai hosted an international hockey event was in 2007, when the Indian Men’s Hockey Team lifted the 2007 Men’s Asia Cup Trophy after defeating South Korea 7-2. He said, “It is really special for everyone that the Hero Asian Champions Trophy is being held in Chennai.
The way the crowd supported us in Rourkela and Bhubaneswar, we hope that the fans come in huge numbers, fill the stadium and support us. I am looking forward to playing in Chennai.”
Interestingly, Hardik Singh made his debut at the 2018 Asian Champions Trophy which was held in Muscat. India and Pakistan were declared joint winners by virtue of forfeiture of the final due to persistent rain. Recalling his experience, he said, “It was a new experience for me as it was the first important tournament for me and I was making my debut. But I was under no pressure and I knew that I have to give my best for the team.”
The flamboyant midfielder, who earned his 100th International Caps for India in their match against England in the 100th Anniversary Spanish Hockey Federation – International Tournament being played in Barcelona, Spain. Talking about his journey, he said, “It is a blessing that I have represented the country. I feel honoured that I have been given this opportunity.”
Harmanpreet, who has known Hardik for the longest of time, spoke about his camaraderie with Hardik over the years. “I have been with him ever since he started his journey. He is an excellent player. The way he plays and carries the team is truly commendable. Whenever he is there on the field, it feels like there is someone who is giving his best every time and sacrificing his everything for the team. We all learn from him and going forward, I want more players like Hardik,” Captain Harmanpreet said.
HOCKEY INDIA TEAM PARTNERS
Odisha (India’s Best Kept Secret) – Major Team Partner
Sports Authority of India (SAI)
About HOCKEY INDIA
HOCKEY INDIA (HI) is the governing body with exclusive mandate to direct and conduct all activities for both men and women’s hockey in India. It is recognized by the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports, Govt. of India as the sole body responsible towards promoting Hockey in India.
Headquartered in New Delhi, Hockey India was established on 20th May, 2009 and is affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH), the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Asian Hockey Federation (AHF).
Committed to the development of Hockey in the country, Hockey India with the assistance of Sports Authority of India and Department of Sports, Government of India, trains players at sub-junior, junior and senior level. The governing body engages in Coaching the coaches with International Standard certification programs, educates and equips technical officials and umpires to find a foothold in international arena, provides world-class infrastructure and International exposure for the players besides regular international competition. Hockey India has also pioneered in bringing top International hockey events to India such as the FIH Men’s World Cup in 2010 and 2018, FIH Champions Trophy in 2014, FIH Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016 and 2021, FIH Hockey World League Final in 2017. With its vision to popularize the game and constantly promote it, Hockey India brought the Indian Men’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world. Hockey India is also dedicated to getting the Indian Women’s Hockey Team into the top three in the world.
Odisha – the Eastern State of India – is known for its love for Hockey and over the years it has evolved to be the Global Hub of Hockey. The State successfully hosted the Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup Bhubaneswar 2018, followed by the FIH Men’s Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha, FIH Olympic Qualifiers Odisha, and FIH Hockey Pro League 2020-21. Odisha has previously hosted the Champions Trophy 2014 and the Odisha Men’s Hockey World League Final Bhubaneswar 2017. Odisha also hosted the FIH Men’s Hockey Junior World Cup in 2021.
Kalinga Lancers, the team owned by the State, were the winners in the Hockey India League 2017. Taking a step further towards realising the dream of restoring the glory of Indian Hockey at the global level, the State is sponsoring the Indian Hockey Teams till 2033.
Odisha also hosted the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023.