The bronze medal won by the Indian men’s hockey team after a gap of 41 years will encourage parents to allow their children to take up hockey and achieve glory, said goalkeeper PR Sreejesh on Monday (August 9). Indian men’s hockey team defeated Germany 5-4 in the playoff to win a bronze medal, their first medal after the gold in the Moscow Olympics. India, the most successful country in men’s hockey with eight gold medals, had lost its glory days as the teams failed to even make it to the semifinals after 1980.
After a function organised by the Sports Ministry to felicitate the Tokyo Olympic Games medallists, Sreejesh said that after this medal, parents will now see a future for their children in hockey. “We have won a medal, we have proved to the world that we can win. Families will now think that their child too should play the same sport. Like we have won the medal, they too can win a medal one day. Parents will think that if their child plays hockey, he too can one day win a medal and achieve success in his life,” said India’s top goalkeeper.
Tokyo was the third Olympic Games for Sreejesh, who works as Chief Sports Organiser with the Government of Kerala’s Department of General and Higher Education. The 33-year-old said the challenge for the team now is to maintain the same level of performance and win more medals. “Challenges are there in every sport, you play Test cricket or participate in Olympics, you always have to play to win. Now that we have won this medal, we need to maintain the same level of performance.”
Sreejesh said that despite cricket becoming the most popular sport in the country, hockey had never gone out of people’s mind. “In between, our performance was down and therefore people were not hearing much about hockey. But now that we have won this medal, every Indian is talking about hockey,” he said.
Sreejesh added that the bronze medal win at the Tokyo Olympics can be seen as the ‘rebirth of Indian hockey’. “Unfortunately, we could not reach the finals, but we managed to win gold, I feel this is a rebirth of Indian hockey. Definitely, we always play to win. We are Olympic medallists now and from now on, we will try to make winning a habit. We have to qualify for the next Olympics so the next Asian Games would be important. We would host the next World Cup, so we will like to do well there as well,” he added.
(with agency inputs)