Regarded as one of the best hockey custodians in the world, PR Sreejesh will take charge as goalkeeping mentor of the India Under-21 side from Thursday as the home team begins its quest for the Junior World Cup title after a prolonged 15-year wait.
Captain of the senior national men’s team, Sreejesh will take charge of the role from South African Dave Staniforth, who was roped in by Hockey India to work with the junior goalkeepers for a short three-week period keeping in mind the World Cup. Staniforth is set to leave for his home nation on Thursday.
Sreejesh’s presence with the side could not have come at a better time for Under-21 goalkeepers – Vikas Dahiya and Krishan B Pathak — as the Kerala custodian is known for his sound technical knowledge and is also considered a great motivator in and out of the field.
“I have worked with the junior goalkeepers in Bangalore camp for sometime before going for a break. Dave (Staniforth) has been training the goalkeepers for the last 3 weeks. But from tomorrow onwards I will be in charge of the goalkeeping aspect,” Sreejesh told PTI.
India junior team head coach Harendra Singh said Sreejesh’s involvement will not only be of immense help to the goalkeepers but to the entire squad as well.
“Sree is currently one of the finest goalkeepers in the world. He is also a great motivator and fun loving guy. So his presence will be of great help,” the coach said. India colts No.1 goalkeeper Vikas Dahiya too feels the same.
“Sree bhai is a great goalkeeper and I have worked with him in the past as well. He is a fantastic jovial person to be with around. He always motivates and inspires everyone to bring out their best on the field,” said Dahiya who is also a part of the senior side now.
India are rated as one of the favourites to lift the Junior World Cup to be held here from December 8 to 18. India last won the trophy way back in 2001 in Hobart.
India colts will open their campaign against Canada in a Pool D match on Thursday.