India will do well at the Junior World Cup, says captain Prasad

Vivek Sagar Prasad says the unity of the junior national team has improved in recent months.

Vivek Sagar Prasad (in white) first played for the national team in 2017. - HOCKEY INDIA

India captain Vivek Sagar Prasad says his team will perform well at the FIH Junior World Cup which begins here on November 24.

Highlighting the junior team’s improvement since he first played for it in 2017, Prasad said, “The team performed better in 2018 and 2019, but in 2020, the Covid period was a period of struggle for all. But the players remained and trained together with the aim to win the title (in Bhubaneswar), and hence the unity and the bond between them has improved a lot. The structure of the team has also improved.”

India will open its title defence with a clash against France on the opening day of the event.

The skipper, part of India’s historic Olympic bronze-medal-winning side in Tokyo, named Maninder Singh, Rahul Rajbar and Sanjay as some of the key players in the junior team.

“I hope and I believe we will do well in this tournament as well,” he said.

ALSO READ - Junior World Cup: German coach Altenburg expects attractive play

In 2017, Prasad led India men’s junior team for the first time at the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia, where the side finished third. He was named the ‘Young Player of the Tournament’ for his consistent performances.

In 2018, Prasad received a call-up to India men’s senior side. “In 2013, in one of the small tournaments in my village in Itarsi district, Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Dhyan Chand came as the chief guest. He picked me from there and gave me an opportunity to come to the academy. I was shocked that such a big player is calling me to his academy. I could not believe it,” Prasad recalled.

“Two years later, I came to India junior national camp. But unfortunately, I was not selected in the 33-man core group. A week later, when I went back to the academy, I suffered a major injury as my collar bone broke. After the operation, it took me around five months to recover.

“After I returned, I received another injury, and it was serious. Doctor told my parents that there is very little chance of my recovery. But I kept my focus on my recovery, and my family and friends helped me at that time,” he said, sharing his struggles during a tough phase in his life.

For more updates, follow Sportstar on :