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Hockey: P R Sreejesh to lead 22-member Indian hockey team on European tour
New Delhi, February 20, 2021
Ace goalkeeper P R Sreejesh will lead the 22-member Indian Hockey squad on a 17-day tour to Europe in preparation of the Tokyo Olympics.
This will be the men's hockey team's first foreign tour since the Covid-19 pandemic halted sporting activities last March. During the tour, the team will play two matches each against Germany and Britain.
The member squad, along with six support staff, is scheduled to leave for Krefeld, Germany, from Bengaluru on Sunday.
India will play Germany in Krefeld on February 28 and March 2. They will then travel to Antwerp, Belgium where they are scheduled to play Britain on March 6 and March 8.
The squad doesn't include regular skipper and mid-fielder Manpreet Singh, drag flicker Rupinderpal Singh, Varun Kumar and striker SV Sunil.
While Manpreet is not going on the tour due to personal reasons, Rupinder and Varun are not fully fit.
Goalkeepers: PR Sreejesh (Captain), Krishan Bahadur Pathak.
Defenders: Amit Rohidas, Dipsan Tirkey, Gurinder Singh, Harmanpreet Singh (Vice-Captain), Surender Kumar, Jarmanpreet Singh, Birendra Lakra.
Midfielders: Chinglensana Singh, Nilakanta Sharma, Hardik Singh, Vivek Sagar Prasad, Rajkumar Pal, Simranjeet Singh, Shamsher Singh, Akashdeep Singh.
Forwards: Gurjant Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Dilpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Lalit Kumar Upadhyay
Chief Coach Graham Reid was happy that his team is getting a chance to play abroad against strong teams after one year.
"We are very grateful for the opportunity to go to Europe, and we are looking forward to having our first competitive matches in just over 12 months. Playing against powerhouse teams like Germany and Great Britain will provide us with great competition and help immensely in our FIH Hockey Pro League and Olympic Games preparation. Playing any top 10 ranked team is always a great experience for the team," he said.
"We thank both Hockey India and SAI for making this tour happen. This tour will help us set the yardstick to prepare for the forthcoming events and give us an understanding of where we stand with respect to the rigorous training we have been undergoing for the last few months in Bengaluru," he added.
Vice-captain Harmanpreet Singh said that players are happy to be traveling for the first time in over a year.
"Playing against Germany and Great Britain will help us set the parameters for preparing best ahead of FIH Hockey Pro League which is our immediate competition ahead of the Olympic Games.
"We understand the weather in Europe will be quite cold this time of the year, but we have almost a week to acclimatize. We are looking forward to this exciting challenge, we can't wait to get into competition mode,” he said.
The Indian Men's Team last participated in an international competition in February 2020 when they took on Australia during the FIH Pro League matches held in Bhubaneswar. As a result of the good performance, the team had climbed to 4th in the FIH world rankings, India's highest ranking till date.
Hockey India has been in constant touch with a number of countries to make the best of the current situation and to ensure international competitions are made available for the Indian teams as part of their preparations for the Tokyo Olympic Games which were postponed from July 2020 to July 2021 and other major international tournaments in the year 2021.
Hockey India and the host National Associations have planned to create a bio bubble in countries the team will be traveling for training and competition.
The team will be staying in a hotel where a provision to have separate rooms/halls for the team for all the meals, team meetings, sessions etc have been made.
The accommodation will be on twin sharing basis, where the room sharing partners will remain the same throughout the tour who will also be same even in case of the seating arrangement in the team coach/bus. This has been planned carefully keeping in mind all necessary requirements.
The team members will not be moving out of the bubble and meeting any third-party source as even while travelling to the match/training venue the team will be travelling in a dedicated transport.
The local resources along with the team eg. Team bus/coach, drivers, support staff will all remain the same throughout the tour to avoid any lapses in any way possible.
The entire Indian contingent will undergo a Covid-19 RT-PCR Test 48 hours prior to their departure from SAI Centre, Bengaluru. Though there is no requirement of quarantine upon arrival in Germany, the team will still be following all safety and health measures as advised by the respective Governments of India, Germany and Belgium. Further the teams will also be following the Hockey India SOPs as available on the Hockey India website.
The team has been training at the SAI Campus in Bengaluru since they joined back the camp in January 2021 after a short break.