When the Indian junior men hockey team take to the field for the EurAsia Cup in Russia, their primary objective will be to gain perspective about their abilities and learn from the experience of playing on the big stage. With an eye on the Junior World Cup in Lucknow later this year, the think tank is focussing on developing a squad with a collective experience of playing together frequently.
Defender and Captain Dipsan Tirkey, leads the team into their first outing against Dinamo Stroitel on 9th July, and is confident about what they have set out to achieve and how to achieve it.
“The idea behind these tours is not just to gain experience individually, but to gain experience as a side. It is important we know each other’s games completely, know the weaknesses and our strengths so that we can play up from them,” he said.
“A large part of this squad has experience of playing in the Coal India HIL, a huge positive for us and for Indian hockey itself, so we can match up to senior squads at a certain level. Now, these kinds of tournaments can reduce the gap even further.”
Coach Harender Singh added, “The idea behind a strong youth team is not just to win and play tournaments at this level, but also have a steady production line of prospects up for the senior team. For that to happen, the gap between the two must not be too varied.
“With Harmanpreet and Harjeet staking strong claims in the senior side right now, we have already proved that India has a huge depth in talent. Now the trick is to ensure consistency. This has to happen regularly.”
The Junior team trained at the camp in Bengaluru along with their senior team counterparts and the experience has rubbed off positively on all the players.
“Having watched their performances of late, especially in the Champions Trophy, we are highly motivated to ensure the standards do not dip. After all, they have set the bar high now, and following them, it’s our job to ensure this does not dip.
“We will do our best to learn from the way they played and ensure we produce good performances on the tour.” added Captain Dipsan Tirkey.
India’s EurAsia Cup campaign starts on July 9th and then, they will go to England for a six-match series later in the month.