Manpreet is now set to inspire his team in Dusseldorf.
Bengaluru: In more ways than one, the Indian hockey team are experiencing a renaissance of sorts in the midst of a new Olympic cycle.
While 2020 Tokyo may be far away, new foundations are being laid for this team, with youth complementing experience and shouldering the burden of expectation. One such name that jumps off the page at a time when India pass through a heady period in 2017 calendar is talented midfielder Manpreet Singh — the newly-installed captain the Men in Blue who departed on Sunday for the upcoming three-nation tour in Dusseldorf, Germany.
The 24-year-old half-back was a key figure in India’s junior unit and has found himself being thrust into greater responsibility with the senior side owing to regular captain and goalkeeper Sreejesh P.R.’s knee injury at the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup.
However, the new role doesn’t faze him and he believes the team’s strength of character and togetherness is what will lead them to success. “I don’t feel the pressure of being the captain. On the field, we are all captains. Whether I am wearing the armband or not, everyone is a leader in our team. That means if one player is down, others can push him up and motivate,” said the Jalandhar lad.
What sets Manpreet apart for head coach Roelant Oltmans to bestow him with the captaincy, in a team who already boasts stalwarts like Sardar Singh, is the youngster’s tactical adherence.
“The good thing about Manpreet is that he is someone who really understands the demands of the coaches.
“He knows what our game plan is like and why we have to execute it like that, and he is able to coach his team mates,” the Dutchman said.
Strangely enough, the Sultan Azlan Shah has been a harbinger of change for Manpreet. The 2016 edition proved especially difficult for him, as he lost his father midway through the tournament.
“I lost my father last year. My team mates helped me a lot. It was difficult for me to go back. I was sad… but my team mates helped me a lot. They were there when I needed them and I am grateful,” he recalls.
Manpreet is now set to inspire his team in Dusseldorf. From there, India travel to London where they will face the likes of Holland, Argentina, Scotland & Pakistan at the World Hockey League semi-finals.
His thoughts on the upcoming assignments depict his steely mentality. “We cannot underestimate any side. Teams like Holland, Great Britain and Pakistan, among others, will all want to give their best. It doesn’t concern us or put extra pressure on us knowing that Pakistan are is in our group,” Manpreet said.