'My time will come'

MOHAMMED YOUSUF

Diwakar Ram, who impressed everyone with his consistent showing at the junior level and promptly graduated to the senior National hockey team, has been out of favour owing to injuries and the tussle between Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF). In the National Championship in Lucknow recently, the wiry drag-flicker, playing for his home state Uttar Pradesh, looked much more polished and confident on the pitch. He was one of the top goal-scorers and the ‘Best Defender’ of the championship.

The 24-year-old from Gorakhpur spoke to Sportstar about his time away from the National team and his future in the game.

Answer: My last tour was the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup (Malaysia) in 2011 and I was part of the National camp in October-November that year. Then I was injured and never made a comeback to the team.

Do you think the tussle between HI and the IHF affected you? How did you motivate yourself to keep playing?

Yes, that affected my prospects in a big way. The World Series Hockey (WSH) was a factor. I focused on playing (for my employer ONGC) in various tournaments and kept myself motivated. There was no point blaming anyone. I had only one option — to prove my worth and make a comeback to the camp.

There are some top drag-flickers in the Indian camp now. So, how do you rate your chances?

The competition has become tougher. If I get a chance to be part of the camp, then I will get an idea of how tough it is. Now, V. R. Raghunath, Sandeep Singh, Rupinderpal Singh and Gurjinder Singh are already in the camp. So, it will be really tough.

How did you get back your touch?

I have been training and playing in different tournaments and doing well in most of them. Regular training is the main reason why I am in form. In this tournament (National Championship), I played really well.

Now you are a far better defender who can play as a linkman, one who goes up the field to feed the attackers. How did this happen?

Most drag-flickers face the criticism that they are good only in drag-flicks and not in field-play. I wanted to change that notion and worked seriously on my field-play. It is good to hear (from people) that ‘this player scores a few goals and hardly gives away any.’

Having played all these years, do you still seek tips from anybody?

Whenever I face any problem, I take tips from Jugraj Singh, the former India drag-flicker. He always helps me out.

Since the year is packed with so many important events, do you think you will get a chance to be in the National team again?

My aim is to get into the (Indian) camp and then eye a spot in the team. I am confident my time will come again.

Since you have not played in the Hockey India League (HIL) so far, are you hopeful of being part of the league in its third edition?

Yes. My first target is to make it into the National camp and then I am hopeful of playing in the HIL next season.

Y. B. Sarangi