National Hockey C’ship: Can P. R. Sreejesh play for Tamil Nadu?

P. R. Sreejesh, the star goalkeeper, may represent the State in the Nationals ‘B’ division beginning here on January 7. However, there is a hitch that has put the officials of the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu in a bind.

Will he, won’t he? P. R. Sreejesh wishes to play for Tamil Nadu, but resides and works in Kerala.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

India’s goalkeeper P. R. Sreejesh has often expressed his desire to play for Tamil Nadu in the National hockey championship. However, due to his pressing engagements with the National team, the 32-year-old had not been able to fulfil his wish.

Now, there is a possibility the star ’keeper might represent the State in the Nationals ‘B’ division beginning here on January 7. There is a hitch, though, that has put the officials of the Hockey Unit of Tamil Nadu (HUTN) in a bind.

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Sreejesh is now an employee of the State Education department in Kochi. Curiously, he is also a registered player of HUTN for nearly a decade. “Sreejesh has been a HUTN-registered player from the time he joined Indian Overseas Bank in Chennai,” an official said.

Speaking to Sportstar in July this year, Sreejesh had expressed his keenness to represent Tamil Nadu. “If you have to play for another State, you have to get an NOC from TN. But since TN has helped me reach where I am now, I have decided to play only for TN,” he had said.

‘Depriving a young player’

There are strong arguments against Sreejesh representing the State. A former India player said: “He (Sreejesh) is not staying here (Chennai) anymore. His residence is in Kerala. He is not playing for IOB. And moreover, you are depriving a young player of an opportunity,” he said.

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There were quite a few who even questioned Sreejesh receiving the cash award from the Tamil Nadu Government recently after the Indian team won the bronze in the Asian Games in Jakarta.

HUTN officials are not willing to go on record and confirm whether Sreejesh will play for Tamil Nadu.

There could be some clarity when Sreejesh — reportedly — arrives in the city in a few days.