Devesh Chauhan: Lack of competition causing Sreejesh to feel complacent

Chauhan, who stood between the sticks at the 2000 and 2004 editions of Olympic games, says there is no dearth of talented goalkeepers in the country.

Devesh Chauhan (in photo) says there are "several good goalkeepers on the domestic circuit".   -  ASHWIN ACHAL

P.R. Sreejesh has held the Indian hockey team goalkeeper spot for nearly a decade without facing much competition, a fact that worries Devesh Chauhan. The lack of quality goalkeeping depth in the squad hurts India’s long-term plans, Chauhan explained.

“There is no competition for Sreejesh; he is all alone with no one behind him. Suraj Karkera and Krishan Pathak are good, but they are not on the same level to challenge Sreejesh. In this scenario, it is only natural for Sreejesh to feel complacent. If there are a couple of guys
gunning for your spot, Sreejesh will be pushed to do even better,” Chauhan, who stood between the sticks in the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympics, told Sportstar here on Monday.

“When I was playing, we had several fantastic goalkeepers like Kamaldeep Singh, Adrian D'Souza, Bharat Chettri and Baljit Singh. We could not take it easy even for a minute, because if you slipped, you would be out of the side. There was a healthy fight between us, which was great for the team,” Chauhan, the IOCL team manager at the Bengaluru Hockey Association Super Division hockey championship, said.

Read: ‘Exclusive camp will help goalkeepers in Olympic qualifiers’

There is, however, no dearth of talented goalkeepers in the country, he said. “You can find several good goalkeepers on the domestic circuit. It will be good if the national team setup can pick 8-10 goalkeepers and have regular specialised camps. That way, you can increase the talent pool,” he said.

There are some basic qualities that every goalkeeper must possess, Chauhan said. “Height and reflexes are key. You need to be at least six-feet to be a good ‘keeper. If you are around 5' 8", your reflexes will be great, but your reach will be less. For tall guys, the opposite occurs. Sreejesh is the best combination of height and reflexes, which is why he has been so successful. We need to find someone in his mould,” Chauhan said.