Bhubaneswar: With less than a week remaining for Men’s Hockey World League Final, hockey fever has gripped Bhubaneswar at the moment. Three players from Odisha are going to represent the Indian team in this tournament. Ahead of the tourney, we met senior hockey coach from Odisha Kalu Charan Choudhury at Kalinga Stadium, Bhubaneswar for an interview. Excerpts from the interview...
- On India’s chances in HWL Final
Our heartbeat is increasing with each passing day. All matches are important and the team has planned for every game. Three players from Odisha are in the team and I am also taking a look at their preparations for the tournament.
- On students Dipsan Tirkey & Amit Rohidas
Dipsan does not think he is a newcomer, he tries to work hard on his mistakes. I always advice him to listen to the coach and avoid injuries while playing. His experience is increasing day by day. His main aim is now to play in the Olympics after playing junior world cup and getting selected in the national side. He is bit slow with drag-flick and he should try to develop his pace there which will be a plus-point for him. Both Dipsan and Amit are my students and I am quite hopeful that they will get a chance in best XI and do well in the tournament.
- Memories with ‘Orissa Steelers’
We first played in Tier-2 and after winning against Chennai Warriors we qualified for Tier-1. We were delighted after winning against Chennai and qualifying for Tier-1. We played extremely well under Dillip Tirkey’s captaincy in the first season in Tier-1 and were crowned champions. Premier Hockey League was a very memorable tournament for all of us. Because of the performance of the team, I got a call from the national association to be the assistant coach of the senior Indian team ahead of Doha Asian Games.
- Coaching junior national team
The junior coaching camp was held in Chandigarh and at that time very well known players of the senior team like PR Sreejesh, Jugraj Singh etc were a part of the under 18 squad. It was a balanced team and was doing well in the junior international tournaments.
- Odisha performance at senior level
It is not about senior or junior. If the players listen to the coach carefully and be disciplined and hard-working they will excel in any age group. The disadvantage for Odisha at the senior level is many players from the state are getting jobs and are moving out to play for other teams. Its a minus point both for Hockey Odisha and Hockey Gangpur-Odisha.
- International championships in Bhubaneswar
Previously people here didn’t know what is hockey! But now with big tournaments being organised here, the craze for the sport is growing in Bhubaneswar. Young kids are coming to me for practice and training.
- Hockey in coastal Odisha
Previously in coastal Odisha, hockey was played in Berhampur, Chhatrapur and Cuttack. Because of the lack of facilities the popularity of the game gradually decreased. Now the game is reviving again in the coastal belt. Children playing hockey in Dhenkanal is an example of this. Feeding centres in the coastal belt will ensure an increase in the popularity of the game.
- On U-18 India captain Nilam Sanjeep Xess
Nilam is bit slow on the turf is what former junior India coach Harendra Singh said so we are trying to rectify that. He improved really well. He played in the HIL also and proved his skill. We are focussing more on drag-flicks of the young players now because it increases the goal-scoring ability of a player during penalty corner.