Acknowledging the supreme sacrifice made by Indian soldiers at the borders, national hockey captain P R Sreejesh on Wednesday vowed that his team will give its all to beat Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia next month.
Sreejesh did not mention the recent Uri terror attack which led to heightened tensions between the two countries but said his team would not want to disappoint Indian soldiers by losing against Pakistan in the Asian Champions Trophy to be played at Kuantan in Malaysia between October 20 and 30.
Sreejesh was born May 8, 1986, in Kizhakkambalam village, in the Ernakulam district of Kerala, to P. V. Raveendran and Usha, a family of farmers.
He completed his primary education in St. Antony’s Lower Primary School in Kizhakkambalam and he studied until sixth standard in St. Joseph high school in Kizhakkambalam. As a kid, he trained as a sprinter, before moving on to long jump and volleyball.
At 12, he joined the GV Raja Sports School in Thiruvananthapuram. This was where his coach suggested that he take up goalkeeping.
However, he became a professional after he was picked by hockey coaches Jayakumar and Ramesh Kolappa at the school, following which he played at the school before playing at the Nehru Cup.
He completed his graduation in History from Sree Narayana College, Kollam, Kerala “India-Pakistan match brings a lot of excitement to the table. We want to give hundred per cent.
Sreejesh made into the junior national team in 2004, in a match against Australia in Perth, in 2004. He made his debut in the senior national team in 2006, at South Asian Games in Colombo. Following India’s win at the 2008 Junior Asia Cup, he was awarded the ‘Best Goalkeeper of the Tournament’. Having been a part of the Indian team for six years, though often losing his place to senior goalkeepers.
We don’t want to disappoint our soldiers by losing, especially when they sacrifice their lives in the exchange of fire at the borders,” Sreejesh told in an interview here.
India face Pakistan on October 23 in their round-robin match in the tournament to be played among the top six teams in the continent.
Sreejesh also said that Pakistan was currently playing low-grade hockey though they have a special quality of springing a surprise on any given day.
“They are now playing totally a lower-grade hockey. That is what I feel. But they (Pakistan) have a strong mental attitude. They can beat any team anytime. That is their specialty,” Sreejesh said at the Sports Authority of India center where the team has been training.
Fresh and rejuvenated after a brief break following their eighth-place finish in the Rio Olympics, core probables of Indian senior men’s hockey team had returned to the national camp, which started starting here on September 18.
The four-week camp has set the momentum for the fourth men’s Asian Champions Trophy in Malaysia where India go in as favourites. The camp features 26 core probable, including former captain Sardar Singh and the likes of Akashdeep Singh and Chinglensana Singh.
“We are better placed than Pakistan as we have been playing against top teams around the world. Pakistan on the other hand failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in their history,” Sreejesh said.
The Indian captain said other teams in the tournament like Malaysian and Korea cannot be taken lightly because they have been making improvements.
“We cannot say that Asian Champions Trophy is that easy a contest. The Koreans are in the process of developing their team. Malaysia is working towards getting noticed at international level,” he said.