Indian hockey in 1990s was synonymous with Dhanraj Pillay. The ace Indian forward carried the team and the fans’ hopes for years and stamped his authority as a mainstay in the Indian team through his stellar performances.
Dhanraj Pillay made his India debut in 1989 and three years later he was a part of the Indian team for the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Having borne the brunt of expectations for decades, Dhanraj Pillay is no stranger to analyzing how the Indian team will think when they step out to break a 41-year-old jinx at the Tokyo Olympics 2020.
The former Indian team captain said the Indian team had improved their fitness by leaps and bounds and that would act as a catalyst in holding the team in good stead. He told Hockey India:
'I'm very confident they will do it this time. They have been doing well in the last 5 years. Fitness is their biggest asset. In those days, we didn't have the kind of support system they have now. The team has done wonders and won the hearts of millions of fans with their recent performances, particularly the Champions Trophy (in 2016 and 2018) and the World League Finals (2015 and 2017) results. I know they can do it this time."
Having led the team for years together, Dhanraj Pillay knows how to motivate the youngsters in the team. He is also not alien on how to enjoy being a player, apart from bringing out the best on the turf.
Dhanraj Pillay's advice to teams
In a bid to share his knowledge and help the Indian hockey team, Dhanraj Pillay on Monday sent personalized letters to Indian men’s and women’s teams captains Manpreet Singh and Rani, wishing them the best.
"Since I am also in Bangalore, I would have loved to meet them in person but due to protocols, I did not. I sent them a letter wishing them the very best and I wanted to convey to them that they should be careful about their diet when they are in the Olympic village. I wanted to convey to them that they should enjoy the best part of their athletic life by being calm and relaxed,” the 52-year-old player said.
But what would be Dhanraj Pillay’s best advice to the Indian hockey teams?
He preferred to keep it simple and said:
"To both the men's and women's teams, I want to say, don't think about the podium finish. Go match-by-match and stick together as one unit right until the last day, the last match of the tournament."
ALSO READArticle Continues below