India defender Amandeep Lakra on Friday said the team has “identified” and addressed the chinks in their armour to ensure all bases are covered before the upcoming FIH Junior Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur.
The tournament will be held from December 5 to 16, with India starting their campaign against South Korea in a Pool C match on the opening day.
“We have had a fantastic preparatory camp. We identified chinks in our armour and worked on them to cover all aspects of our game.
“Each and every one of us has worked extremely hard and there’s great camaraderie in the camp. I will give this tournament my all and hopefully contribute significantly to winning the Junior World Cup,” Lakra said in a Hockey India release.
Lakra said the senior men’s team’s bronze medal-winning outing at the Tokyo Olympics motivated him to establish himself in the sport and aim for glory. The bronze ended India’s 41-year-long wait for a medal in hockey at the Olympics.
“I started dreaming about achieving the same milestone and upon sharing the same with my father, he said that hard work was the only way I would get there,” Lakra said.
He said he was also driven to do well in the sport after watching Hockey India president Dilip Tirkey go about his job during his playing days with the national team, of which he is the most capped player.
“As an aspiring player, I had the opportunity to meet the legendary Dilip Tirkey, who told me that he used to work out for four hours a day,” he said.
“He also advised us to be hardworking and focused in our efforts to become good players. His words inspired me, and I began making similar efforts. I started out at Panposh Sports Academy, but after my father was transferred, I had to stop playing.” He also stated that he is impressed by the drag-flicking abilities of current India captain Harmanpreet Singh.
“Watching him train closely here in SAI Bengaluru, I get to learn a lot from him and his on-field focus and style,” Lakra said.
Recalling the challenges he faced in his early days in the sport, he added, “I faced a little bit of difficulty finding places to train, so I started training on grass with my father.
“Then I received a call informing me that I had been invited to join the SAI Centre in Bhopal as part of the Khelo India scheme in 2020. Later, I returned to play in Nationals for Odisha and was chosen for the national camp based on my performance.” Lakra played sub-junior Nationals in 2015 in Delhi and in 2016 in Manipur and made his junior Nationals debut for Odisha in 2021 at the Junior Men’s National Championship in Kovilpatti, Tamil Nadu, where he helped his side win the bronze medal.
In 2021, Lakra received a call to the junior men’s national camp and he made his debut for the Indian team at the 2022 Sultan of Johor Cup, where India won the gold medal.
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