FIH Hockey Men’s Hockey World Cup | Shamsher Singh banks on skipper Harmanpreet Singh to deliver the goods

FIH Hockey Men’s Hockey World Cup | Shamsher Singh banks on skipper Harmanpreet Singh to deliver the goods

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(Hockey India)

Shamsher Singh has become a vital member of the Indian Men's Hockey Team midfield following his outstanding performance at the Tokyo Olympics. The 25-year-old is now a member of the Indian Men's Hockey Team for the upcoming FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup Bhubaneswar-Rourkela 2023.

India, along with Spain, Wales, and England are placed in Pool D. India will begin their campaign against Spain on January 13th at the new 'jewel' of hockey, the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela. With just two weeks left for the tournament to begin, Shamsher, who has played 47 matches for the Senior Indian Men's Hockey Team, spoke about the team's excitement about playing their first game in Rourkela on Episode 37 of Hockey Te Charcha, a podcast series launched by Hockey India.

"We cannot wait to play our first match. We have prepared well. When we need to be serious on the ground, we are completely serious and dedicated. But we also are having a lot of fun. There is a great atmosphere within the camp ahead of the tournament," he said.

A total of 20 matches will be played at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, which has a seating capacity of over 20,000. The fans in the region were so eager to see the prestigious event that all match tickets in Rourkela were sold out within a week of the Box Office opening outside the stadium. Shamsher is ecstatic to see such enthusiasm among fans.

"Nilam Sanjeep Xess, who hails from Odisha is my roommate. He keeps telling me that you cannot get tickets anymore and that they are all sold out in Rourkela. There is going to be a massive crowd here. The hockey fans are really passionate here in Rourkela and they really love the sport. So, we all feel quite excited that we will get a chance to play here and we will get to enjoy the match together," Shamsher said.

A product of the Surjit Singh Hockey Academy, Shamsher started his career with Indian Men's Junior Team during the four-Nations Invitational tournament held in Valencia, Spain in 2016. He made his Senior team debut during the 2019 Men's Ready Steady Tokyo Hockey Tournament, where Harmanpreet Singh led the Indian team for the first time. Now, Shamsher will get to compete for the biggest prize in hockey, with Harmanpreet leading the troops in the sport's biggest competition for the first time.

"Harmanpreet Singh is a fantastic player. He has climbed so high in such a short amount of time. His best quality is that he remains calm on the ground. Even when things are not going well, he keeps motivating the team and pushes them to work hard till the final minute of the match," Shamsher said.

"He helps out everyone in the team and ensures everyone maintains their concentration and remains composed. The team has performed well whenever he has led the team. So, we all are quite confident in him guiding us throughout the tournament," he added.

Shamsher was picked in the squad for the Tokyo Olympics 2020 with only five caps to his name. The midfielder was encouraged at the time by Indian Men's Hockey Team Chief Coach Graham Reid, who believed in him despite his lack of experience. Shamsher proved his coach correct by showcasing his abilities and assisting India in winning a Bronze medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Since then, he has gone on to play a key role in India’s Bronze Medal win at the Asian Champions trophy 2021, India's third-place finish at the FIH Hockey Pro League 2021-22, and India's Silver Medal win at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games. Shamsher expressed gratitude to Coach Graham Reid for always believing in him.

"It has been a good experience to work under Chief Coach Graham Reid. He explains things calmly, but he also knows when to be aggressive on the field. He explains well how we need to play tactfully and be smarter during the game," Shamsher said. "He also points out the areas where we can target the opposition. He also understands players and helps out with their emotional needs. He knows how to motivate a player," Shamsher Singh signed off.

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