Newly appointed Indian hockey captain Manpreet Singh said that he has learnt a lot playing under PR Sreejesh and with Sardar Singh. “I have picked up the best aspects of captaincy from captains I have played with,” said Manpreet in an interview with Times of India, “I’ve learnt a lot from Sreejesh and Sardar Singh in the Indian team. I have also learnt while playing under internationals like England’s Barry Middleton in the Hockey India League.”
He said that both Sardar and Sreejesh had their own ways of leading the side. “From Sardar, I have learnt to motivate youngsters. When I started off, if I had a bad day on the field, he always told me not to look back. That is something I tell the youngsters now. Likewise, Sree is a very jovial person who keeps the atmosphere very light but does not allow it to distract us from our goals. That’s something I’m trying to inculcate myself.”
Manpreet will lead India in the upcoming Hockey World League semi-final. He was given the skipper’s role after ace goalkeeper Sreejesh was ruled out due to injury. Sreejesh had twisted his knee during the Azlan Shah Cup match against Australia earlier this month, which will keep him out for at least three months.
Leadership is not something that is new for Manpreet. He had led the national junior team in the past. But Manpreet said that leading the senior team is a completely different experience from the junior counterpart. “There is a lot of difference in the leadership roles in the junior and senior teams. At the junior level, we were all about the same age but in the senior team, we have players from varied age groups and experience. For example in the current team, Sardar (Singh), (SV) Sunil and Rupinder Pal (Singh) are iconic players. It feels a little different as a captain to lead a team with such illustrious players. That said, they have all been friendly and help me handle pressure. For me, the team goals don’t change because at the end of the day, hockey is a team sport and each one has his responsibility.”
India’s World League semi-finals starts on June 15 when they take on Scotland in Pool B. Also with them in the pool are Pakistan and Netherlands.