Junior World Cup hockey: Youngster Araijeet 'charged up' for the quarterfinal

The Amritsar boy, who came to the sport because of his father Kuljeet Singh (a former Railways player), was quick on his feet as a forward but his drag-flicking skills improved following his consultations with senior India players last year.

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: Seventeen-year-old striker-cum-drag-flicker Araijeet Singh Hundal scored five goals including a hat-trick.

Seventeen-year-old striker-cum-drag-flicker Araijeet Singh Hundal says the Indian players understand the importance of maintaining their energy level in the quarterfinal match against Belgium in the men’s hockey Junior World Cup at the Kalinga Stadium here on Wednesday.

Hundal said his team would give its best in the last-eight match. “I feel we took our first match (against France) too lightly, but have learnt from our mistakes. We are fully charged up for the quarterfinals against Belgium. We had a meeting, especially for forwards, today and we know even one small mistake or slight drop in energy will cost us dearly against Belgium. We are focused on playing our 'A' game against them," said Araijeet.

Araijeet, who has scored five goals including a hat-trick, underscored the importance of the JWC. “I was just 12 years old when the 2016 JWC was held in Lucknow. I don't know much about that tournament. But I am aware of how that tournament changed many players’ lives.”

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The Amritsar boy, who came to the sport because of his father Kuljeet Singh (a former Railways player), was quick on his feet as a forward but his drag-flicking skills improved following his consultations with senior India players when the National camp resumed in September 2020. 

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“My interactions with Rupinderpal and Harmanpreet were very helpful. They said my technique was good, but I needed to pay more attention to my footwork and release of the ball. I worked a lot on my timing, power and shoulder movement after coming to the camp.

“Varun Kumar told me to keep my head up and look more confident while taking the drag-flick. Another crucial piece of advice the seniors gave me was to study the opponent goalkeeper's weaknesses. During the lockdown, our coach (B.J. Kariappa) would also share a lot of videos of the senior team drag-flickers on our Whatsapp group so that we could study their movement and implement necessary changes to our game. I feel all these factors have helped a lot,” he added.