Sreejesh calls on juniors to level up

"It's a fresh beginning and with so many youngsters coming into the core probables, the juniors as well as seniors will really have to push for a spot," said Indian captain P. R. Sreejesh.

P. R. Sreejesh says the juniors can learn a lot from the seniors and the latter must take up the responsibility of mentoring the former.   -  K. Murali Kumar

With a raft of junior players making it to the Indian senior hockey core group, captain P. R. Sreejesh called on them to show that they belong to the highest level.

"It's a fresh beginning and with so many youngsters coming into the core probables, the juniors as well as seniors will really have to push for a spot," Sreejesh said. "The juniors will need to get better and better in their skills and execution, adapt well in the camp and prove themselves that they are worthy of that position and are ready to replace a senior player."

"As for a senior player, he needs to match the fitness and speed the juniors bring to the table. While we know that juniors will be the future as we prepare for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, they shouldn't take it for granted that they will make it to the squad. They need to earn it."

Even as he said that the
juniors, who won the World Cup last year and also played as well as they could in the 2017 Hockey India League, he stressed that the standard of the game will be entirely different at the senior level.

"Though they have seen us train closely as the junior team and we were based in the same campus in 2016, I believe being in the system is very different from watching us train."

"Senior players like Sardar [Singh] and [S. V.] Sunil have great work ethic and there's a lot the juniors can learn from them. As seniors we also have an added responsibility of mentoring the juniors and making sure they stay on track."

Getting two former India players, Arjun Halappa and Jugraj Singh, to be part of the support staff would be a great motivating factor, Sreejesh felt. The presence of Hans Streeder, who replaced strategy coach Roger van Gent, will improve the squad further, he added.

"They [Halappa and Jugraj] understand the culture of the team and it's great advantage to have them. I have worked with Hans Streeder earlier in the HIL and he is a good strategist. He was there at the Junior World Cup as part of the Dutch team and he has watched most of our players very closely and understands where they need improvement."

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