New Delhi, 5 June 2016: As the team gets ready to depart for Champions Trophy London today, the Indian Men’s hockey team Captain PR Sreejesh sounded optimistic about the planning ahead of the ultimate challenge – Rio Olympics. According to the goalkeeper, the month-long tour which will culminate in Valencia, Spain at the Six Nations Tournament will be an ideal mental test for the players. “We are getting back-to-back matches in London (Champions Trophy) and Spain (Six Nations Tournament) and that’s how the schedule will be like in Rio Olympics also. This will be a mental test for us as we play world’s top four teams in London and we play the five teams we will face in Rio at the Six Nations Tournament. It will come down to how we succeed in executing the plans we have been working on at the training camp,” he stated.
Playing high intensity matches almost two months prior to the Rio Olympics will not only give the team sufficient time to improve on certain aspects they might lack at the upcoming tournaments but will also ensure the team is mentally fresh for Rio, feels Sreejesh. “Almost a month before the London Olympics, we were in Europe playing matches and directly went for the Olympics. This time, some of us senior players spoke to coach Roelant (Oltmans) after the New Zealand Tour and told him that we wanted to do things differently. We felt that being away for so long, playing 13-15 high intensity matches just before the Olympics made us exhausted mentally. But this time we will be fresh as we return early July, and we get a week’s break before we rejoin the final national camp. The feeling of leaving from Delhi to the play the biggest event of our lives, with one billion people’s wishes backing us will certainly boost our confidence and this works well psychologically for the team,” he added.
As a stand-in Captain for Sardar Singh who is rested for the Champions Trophy, Sreejesh says, his priority will be to ensure the youngsters in the team stay motivated. “As a youngster, playing against teams like Australia can add extra pressure. My aim as a Captain will be to keep them high-spirited and bring them to that level. Right from the highest capped player for the team to the junior most in the team we all have responsibilities to fulfil and our realistic expectation will be to play consistently throughout the Champions Trophy,” he said.
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