~ The Indian Men’s Hockey Team Captain recalls his experience as a debutant for the National Team; says he leads by example set by senior players before him ~
New Delhi, 19 July 2021: A decade on from making his debut for the Indian National Hockey Team as a teenager, current Men’s Team Captain Manpreet Singh recalls his experience of how the senior players at the time lent their support to make him feel at ease in the National Team.
In an insightful conversation on Hockey Te Charcha; a podcast series initiated by Hockey India ahead of the Tokyo Olympics, Manpreet said, “When I came into Team India for the first time there were so many stalwarts like Ignace Tirkey, Tushar Khandker, Shivendra Singh, Sardar Singh, Gurbaj Singh, Sarvanjit Singh and Sandeep Singh. All of these players gave me the confidence to play my own game without fear or anxiety. Even when I made some mistakes in the beginning, they gave me their full support and always encouraged me to express myself on the field without any fear. That was a great environment for a youngster like me to come into the National Team.”
Since his debut, Manpreet has established himself as one of the core members of the Indian Men’s Team in the last decade. He has been a Member of Indian teams which have won prestigious tournaments like the 2014 Asian Games, 2011 and 2018 Asian Champions Trophy and two hard-fought Bronze medals in the FIH World League in 2015 and 2017. Manpreet was named Captain of the Indian National Team for the first time in 2017, and the team has gone on to steadily rise in the FIH World Rankings under his leadership.
Speaking about his own style of leadership, the Indian Skipper said, “I have picked up a lot from the experienced players and team Captains before me. We have a culture in this team where there is no distinction between senior players and junior players. Everyone in the team drives each other on to play without hesitation or fear. We support each other through on-field and off-field problems and always try to uplift the morale of the group. Even in this team, I always heed the advice and inputs of experienced players like PR Sreejesh, Rupinder Pal Singh and Birendra Lakra as everyone is keen to help in the growth of the team.”
From humble beginnings, Manpreet has had a fulfilling career in International Hockey. Apart from leading the National Hockey Team in the Tokyo Olympics, he has also been bestowed the honour of being a flag bearer for India in the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, Manpreet insists that he still has goals he wishes to achieve in his career.
“I have been blessed to have a great career in hockey thus far, but I still have two goals that I want to achieve in hockey. One of them is to win an Olympic medal for India, and the other is to win the Hockey World Cup. I continue to work hard for these goals and lead the team along with me to the best of my ability.”
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