Ahead of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers, Indian midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad has said that like every player, he also wants to represent his country at the Olympic Games. He has also added that he knows that India have a good unit for the Games in 2020 but they are not looking too far ahead now.
The Indian men’s hockey team will be playing both their games of the FIH Olympic Qualifiers against Russia at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The players are now training hard at the venue under the watchful eyes of Graham Reid. Vivek Sagar Prasad is also one of the players in the camp and the midfielder is looking forward to putting on a good show in the two games to get a chance to represent the country in Tokyo.
"Every player wants to play at the Olympic Games, and my dream is the same. I know we have the team to perform well at next year's Olympics but we don't want to look too far ahead of us. Right now our focus is on the upcoming two matches against Russia, and we will continue to work hard to perform well in those matches. After that, we can look forward to the Olympics," Vivek told Hockey India.
"For us, it is always about producing our best performance on the field regardless of the opponent we face. We had a very good preparatory tour of Belgium where we beat the World Champions and the Spanish team quite comprehensively. The Chief Coach also spoke to us after the tour and he was happy with the level of intensity we showed throughout the tour, and we will be aiming to do the same when we take on Russia here in Bhubaneswar.”
The 19-year-old midfielder from the Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy has come a long way since he made his debut at 17 against Japan in a four-nation Invitational Tournament in New Zealand. He now has the experience of playing at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018 Asian Games, FIH Men's Champions Trophy 2018, and the Youth Olympic Games 2018 since making his senior team debut.
"Having been picked for the senior team at such a young age, it was not easy for me when I first came into the side. The intensity and skill required at the senior level, compared to the junior level, was definitely more, but I feel I have adjusted pretty well. I made my debut under Coach Sjoerd Marijne back in 2018, and he also gave me a lot of confidence,” explained the midfielder.
“The transition has not been easy, but I feel I have improved a lot since last year, and with the help of my teammates, and my Coaches, I have been able to help the team in executing their plans.”
The MP hockey player has 57 International Caps to his name now and was the winner of the Best Young Player award at the FIH Series Finals which was also played at the Kalinga Stadium earlier this year. He was very impressed with the guidance he got in the senior team from all the experienced campaigners like Sardar Singh, Manpreet Singh, and PR Sreejesh.
"I was really young when I was called up for the National Camp, and it was a dream come true for me to be playing alongside legends like Sardar Singh. He was always there to guide me in my initial days, and just speaking to him would lift my confidence.
“The good thing about the team has been that I have always received good advice from the experienced players like Manpreet bhai and Sreejesh bhai and for me, it has translated into good performances on the field. It is an important time for our team, and I am really looking forward to contributing in securing our place at next year's Tokyo Olympics," the 19-year-old signed off.