India can reach Olympic final, says Sardar Singh

Primary goal at a big event is to play the sport as you know it, says Adrian D’Souza

Former India captain Sardar Singh strongly believes India, which last won an Olympic hockey medal in 1980 at Moscow, has a good chance to come out on top in Tokyo as long as all the players perform at their best.

“We are No. 4 in the world rankings now and that is a positive sign. We have a proper structure in place and there are good coaches to take care of things. I believe all the players should start training for the big stage from now and possess the winning mind-set.

“I am sure they’ll already be working on it. All our 16-17 players should perform at the same level. [P.R.] Sreejesh or Manpreet [Singh] alone can’t win matches for you. We need everyone. With that consistency, we will be good enough to reach the semifinals or even the final,” said the 34-year-old in the third episode of Sportstar’s ‘Star Talk’ series, moderated by Uthra Ganesan, Special Correspondent, The Hindu, on Thursday.

“Firstly, whether it is at Tokyo or any other big event, all that our youngsters have to do is what they love the most, which is to play hockey. And that is the primary goal — to play the sport as you know it,” added Adrian D’Souza, former goalkeeper of the national team.

Odisha has been at the forefront of the nation’s hockey revolution and Vishal K. Dev, commissioner-cum-secretary of the State’s Sports and Youth Services, said bagging the elusive medal at the Games will boost the sport’s popularity.

“Winning a medal will make children want to pick it up. We need a lot more tournaments and exposure for our players. There should be more sub-junior and junior-level competitions across the country. Additionally, Hockey India League, which hasn’t been organised for the past three years, needs to be revived.”

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