Indian men's junior hockey team coach Harendra Singh: Conducting world league will benefit junior hockey
Finishing runners-up in a tournament after losing a narrow penalty shootout can be a bitter pill to swallow, and the Indian junior men’s hockey team must be experiencing the same after losing 3-4 to Great Britain in the shootout of the final tie of the 2015 Sultan of Johor Cup.
Notwithstanding the runners-up finish for the 2013 and 2014 champions, the Indian colts have plenty of positives to feel happy about. “We should have won the shootout after we came back strongly after conceding an early goal, but it happens in sports. The boys played their heart out and performed consistently in the tournament,” says Indian junior team coach Harendra Singh.
Harendra feels the boys will have to build on the good run in the tournament and take it to the next level for the 2016 Junior World Cup to be held in India. “All teams brought their best junior sides for this tournament and it was a great exposure for our boys. I’m sure the boys will do their homework and be prepared for everything that’ll be thrown at them by these teams in future events.”
The Sultan of Johor Cup is the only under-21 annual invitational tournament and clearly, there is more scope for more top-level junior international tourneys. “Sultan of Johor Cup has become quite popular among top teams of the world from the participation perspective. I’m sure the FIH can do a lot by conducting more junior international hockey tourneys,” Harendra quips.
The Indian junior hockey coach felt that having a world league for the juniors will do a lot of good to world hockey. “FIH should conduct a world league for juniors and it will help world hockey, not just any team. Junior talents of all nations will regularly play against each other and hockey at the senior level will also get highly competitive not that it is not at present. It will benefit hockey across the globe.”
One hopes the Indian colts build on the positives of the Sultan of Johor Cup and attain new heights in future.