Sreejesh backs youngsters

Many nations have fielded young turks in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament.

Published: 22nd April 2017 05:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2017 05:56 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Many nations have fielded young turks in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament. The Indian men’s team will be no different as the hockey think tank is trying to introduce the juniors to higher levels of international hockey.

However, captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh feels they should not be treated as juniors. “We shouldn’t think we are going with a young team. The juniors have been with us for a while and they know the team well,” he said here on Friday. “But it will definitely be a good experience for them to play in this tournament. For me, it will be a challenge to work on their mental aspect and they should put in the same effort when they play in the senior team. They should not think about their opponents but rather on giving it their best,” he added.

It can be daunting for a rising junior player playing in the senior side, but the Kerala star feels they can catch up. “That comes with experience. They will be in high spirits after winning or low when we lose. But the seniors are always there to guide them,” he explained.

Being the main goalkeeper himself, Sreejesh is happy that the junior goalkeepers are doing well. “They have improved a lot and successfully finished their junior careers. They are looking to succeed at the senior level. This makes me train hard and perform well because I can’t take them lightly. I need to do so to keep my place in the side.”

On a personal note, the 28-year-old feels he has to handle each player differently. “I work differently with each player. I can be a little strong on a senior but not on a junior. I need to be more intelligent in handling them. It’s important to deal with players differently.”

Sreejesh feels the upcoming tournament has to be used as a base. “This is the base and you have to strengthen it. Everything may not go right but we are targeting a podium finish. We will try new things and it may work or not work.”

The skipper is wary of Australia’s prowess and feels a win against them will give confidence. “If you keep beating top teams, it gives you confidence. Beating Australia is a good thing for us but not easy as they are a top side. That’s where we need to show our improvement, against Australia and other European teams,” he concluded.


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