VR Raghunath os of the opinion that the strong domestic circuit in Indian hockey has contributed to creating a big pool of talented players. Raghunath has reckoned that competition between the 33 core group of players, trying to make it to the national squad, is healthy for India.
After a brief period of stagnation, Indian hockey – especially the men’s national team – seem to be on the path to progress. In the ongoing Bangalore Cup All India Hockey tournament, two teams (Indian Oil Corporation and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd) had several players vying for a national team call-up. The Indian side will aim a spot in the upcoming Olympics through the FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held later this year. Former India defender VR Raghunath, who is also playing in the Bangalore Cup, spoke about the Indian domestic circuit.
“I feel the pool of players in the national core group is bigger than ever before. Almost all the 33 players in the Indian core group today have international experience and there is healthy competition within the group to play for India,” Raghunath told PTI.
Once known for his fierce drag flicks and disciplined defending, Raghunath is currently captaining the IOCL at the tournament. After a thrilling contest against BPCL ended 5-5, IOCL will now face hosts Karnataka in the semi-final. Raghunath reckons that the exceptional performances of several youngsters at the tournament will help them push for a place in the national squad.
“Some of the players who have been left out of this group need to really work hard and show their worth so they are in reckoning again. Players like forward Sumit Kumar in our team got a call-up to the national squad following the exceptional performance for IOCL at the domestic tournaments,” the former drag-flicker explained.
“If you see in the last six weeks alone, these players have taken part in two consecutive tournaments and have played nearly 10-12 high-quality matches. With India playing Pro League next year, many of these young players stand a great chance to wear India colours again and they just need to keep working hard, play regular domestic matches for their respective teams and not lose hope."
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