New Delhi: With the Commonwealth Games Birmingham 2022 all set to get underway this week, the excitement among hockey fans is palpable as the Indian Men’s Hockey Team is expected to finish on the podium. The former and current players of the Indian Men's Hockey Team shared some of the highlights and their memories from the past editions of the prestigious Commonwealth Games.
Former Indian Men’s Hockey star Tushar Khandker who played a crucial role for India on their way to the Silver Medal at Commonwealth Games 2010 campaign which was held in Delhi, said, “It was a great feeling altogether to play at the Commonwealth Games especially at home, in Delhi. The reason it was a special campaign was that it was our first medal in Hockey at the Commonwealth Games, in fact it was the first time we made it to the Final of the Games.
We had prepared well. We took on Malaysia, Scotland, Australia and Pakistan in the group stages. The game against Pakistan was especially memorable as we decimated them 7-4 in the final game of the group stages. We were all charged up especially since this was the first time since the 1982 Asian Games something big like this was being held in India and all people in the country were excited about the Games. We played exactly how we wanted in the group stages and the knock-out stages as every player followed the game plan perfectly in each match. In the final also we played well for the first 20 minutes, unfortunately after that the score line was not great. But yeah, our journey to the Final was superb. We had a really good time during the games since we had so much support at the stadiums, and that was the first time we won the Silver Medal at the Commonwealth Games, the memory will always stick with me.”
Captain Manpreet Singh and charismatic goal-keeper PR Sreejesh also took some time out to share some of their memorable Commonwealth Games moments.
Manpreet, who was part of the Indian squad that featured at the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, in fact played a crucial role in midfield for India on their way to Silver Medal in 2014. He recalls the campaign fondly, “The Silver Medal in Glasgow was special, Rupinder and Ramandeep were in fantastic form at the tournament, and we were unplayable at points during our Commonwealth Games campaign.
Even my goal against South Africa has been etched into my memory, as I was able to contribute to the team and scored my first goal at such a major event. That goal gave me confidence that I belong on the biggest stages of Hockey. The Birmingham Games will be my third Commonwealth Games and hopefully third times the charm, so we will come back home with the Gold.”
This will also be PR Sreejesh’s third Commonwealth Games, he recalled some special moments from the 2018 Commonwealth Games, where India finished 4th.
Sreejesh said, “We narrowly missed out on the Bronze in 2018 as we lost 2-1 to England in a gripping game for the Medal. Despite that our group stage games were exhilarating from the first match against Pakistan to the final game against England that we won, I remember each and every detail about our campaign. We also got to visit the beautiful shores of Australia after the campaign where the players bonded and reflected on their performance, which will surely serve as a great motivator this time around.”
The Indian Men’s team has already reached Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games on the 23rd July 2022 to take part in the marquee event, with the hockey event scheduled to begin from 29th July.
The Indian team, captained by Manpreet Singh, will square off against Ghana (20:30 IST) in the opening match on 31 July, before playing England (20:30 IST) on 01 August, and Canada (18:30 IST) on 03 August in the pool stage.