Hockey was a major disappointment for India in the last two editions of the Olympics. The team did not qualify for Beijing in 2008, and finished last in London four years later. PR Sreejesh will lead team India in Rio Olympics with SV Sunil the vice-captain. Hockey India announced the goalkeeper as captain for the Rio Games.
Devesh Chauhan, a two-time Olympian said Sreejesh has a bright future in the sport.
“In 2009, I was the junior team goalkeeper coach before the World Cup. I trained Sreejesh and I knew he would play for India for a long time because he’s very fit, he’s very quick and has a lot of enthusiasm,” Chauhan told. “He has a clever mind too, so he’s a mixture of all the goalkeepers,” Chauhan added.
Devesh elaborated on the factors he felt have made Sreejesh the ‘best goalkeeper in Asia’ and among the world’s ‘top three’ in the role. “In India, most goalkeepers, their height is 5’10-5’9. Sreejesh is a six-footer and he’s so quick. So if you have good height and you’re quick, you can do all things. And Sreejesh has a lot of experience. When I was in the senior camp in 2005, he was there at the junior camp. He also attended some senior camps, but if you are a regular in the national camp for 12 years and you continuously work hard, then hard work pays. That’s what’s happened with Sreejesh,” he said.
Chauhan, who represented India at the 2000 and 2004 Games in Sydney and Athens respectively, also backed Sreejesh’s promotion to the skipper of the national side. “I think it’s a good decision because the goalkeeper is the backbone of the team. And if you look at the last three years, Sreejesh has been playing very well. If the goalkeeper plays well, it helps the team to perform well,” said Chauhan.