The Indian Men’s Hockey Team attacking midfielder Rajkumar Pal made a dream debut earlier this year. He was given an opportunity by Chief Coach Graham Reid to show his potential against the World Champions Belgium at the FIH Hockey Pro League. The young lad from Uttar Pradesh’s Karampur village ensured he did not disappoint.
Now a regular feature in the Indian Core Probable Group, Rajkumar says he is fortunate to receive early recognition. “I feel very fortunate to get recognized early in my career. I feel the Hockey India Senior National Championships in 2018 and 2019 was a crucial moment in my career. Good performances there helped me get selected for the Senior National Camp,” expressed Rajkumar Pal.
He further expressed that hockey has given him a new lease of life. “For young boys from small villages like where I come from, there are very few opportunities to make a living or find the right career path. I am fortunate I was encouraged to play a sport that is governed by a professionally run Federation which ensures talent is recognized and nurtured,” he said further adding that youngsters who aspire to make the Indian Team must take the Annual National Championships seriously.
“Youngsters who want to get selected for the National Camp must take the Annual National Championships seriously and make use of the opportunity to do well for your team. Hardwork never goes unnoticed,” he added.
Speaking about his experience over the past six months, Rajkumar feels the team management’s efforts to keep the players motivated through the lockdown was extremely important. “With no activities at all, it was very difficult to feel motivated but the team management, especially Chief Coach and Scientific Advisor ensured we were kept occupied with online activities, English classes and a regular fitness regime. They also ensured we were not fatigued mentally,” Rajkumar explained.
With a well-defined role in the squad now, Rajkumar says his aim is to remain a regular feature in the National Team. “My aim now is to prove my potential in every single session, in every single opportunity I get. We have a very strong pool of players and there is a healthy internal competition to make the final squad. I have received great support from the senior players who encourage me to play to my potential. I look forward to build on this momentum,” he said.