Manpreet Singh on Pro League: We can learn a lot ahead of Olympics

India will take on the Netherlands in the opening game of the tournament in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

Manpreet Singh receives the Sportman of The Year (Team Sports) award from Zafar Iqbal at the Sportstar Aces Awards 2020 in Mumbai.   -  VIJAY SONEJI


Hockey India (HI) had pulled the Indian team out of the inaugural edition of the Pro League in 2019. This time around, India will be among the nine teams facing off against each other and Manpreet Singh, the captain of the men's team, stressed on the importance of a good Pro League outing heading into the Tokyo Olympics.

India will take on the Netherlands in the opening game of the tournament in Bhubaneswar on Saturday.

“This year is very important for us because we are playing the Pro League. The Pro League is important to us for the upcoming Olympics as well," Manpreet told Sportstar on the sidelines of the Aces Awards 2020.

"We can learn a lot of things from the Pro league which we can apply during the Olympics since we will be playing against the same teams at the Olympics."

In an interview with this publication, India's analytical coach Chris Ciriello had highlighted the importance of finding the right balance in terms of workload in the six-month-long Pro League.

READ| Hockey Men's Pro League 2020, India vs Netherlands: When and where to watch, timings, live streaming details

On that matter, Manpreet felt it was important for the players to maintain match-fitness in the build-up to the Olympics. "This Pro League is important because we need to maintain consistency throughout. We are playing with the best teams here and we need to maintain our game and players as well because fitness is really important for us. We need to give our best for every game and I am aiming to play in top gear," said the midfielder.

The 27-year-old was the recipient of the sportsperson of the year in the team sports category at the Aces. On the recognition, Manpreet said, "It's a great honour to receive the award especially from the hockey legends. This award also goes to my team-mates because they help me both on and off the field."

Manpreet has featured in two Olympics without much success but is eager to make it count in Tokyo later this year.

"As a player, I want to win a medal in the Olympics. But we need to play as a team which is really important. First, we are aiming to top our group stages then we will see how it goes.

"I don't think there is any pressure because as an athlete it's a dream to play in the Olympics. I am really looking forward to that and hopefully play as the captain," he said.

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