Another hockey player who needs no introduction is India’s ace forward Tushar Khandekar. Coming from Dhyan Chand’s own town of Jhansi and born in a family of hockey players (his father was a national hockey player and his uncle an international player). Tushar who is one of the key member of Indian team had a quick chat with our hockey editor Jimmy Bhogal.
Jimmy: When did you start playing hockey first?
Tushar Khandkar : I started playing hockey when I was just 7 years old.
Jimmy: Please describe your early days of hockey.
Tushar Khandkar : I used play with my father, uncle and my elder brother. Really fell in love with the game then.
Jimmy: While coming up the ranks, who has been the biggest influence in your life and how has he/she helped you?
Tushar Khandkar : My family has been the biggest influence for me, especially my father and my uncle because its them who have introduced me to the game of hockey.
Jimmy: Now back to the field, what has been the biggest challenge that you have faced till not?
Tushar Khandkar : Biggest challenge for me has been every time I play for my country because that’s the biggest thing I can say.
Jimmy: What has been your favourite hockey moment so far?
Tushar Khandkar : Whenever India beats Pakistan; it has been my favourite moment.
Jimmy: ???Do you have any pre-game rituals or superstition?
Tushar Khandkar : Not really.
Jimmy: 2010 was a mixed year for hockey, missed out on semi-final in the WC, but doing well in CWG and Asian Games. What are your predictions/expectations from the year 2011?
Tushar Khandkar : I believe the year 2010 was good for Indian hockey and I also hope that the year 2011 will be same for the Indian hockey team.
Jimmy: What do you think about the domestic structure of hockey?
Tushar Khandkar : There are many things that we have to change in the domestic hockey. Starting from the umpiring standard to involving more teams and putting in more money for the domestic tournaments.
Jimmy: Indian team missed out on automatic qualification birth for the Olympics and now will have to go through qualifiers. Has this added more pressure to the players of the team, looking at Indian hockey team could not qualify for the last Olympics.
Tushar Khandkar : I do not think that there is or will be any pressure on the team. We will qualify for the London Olympics as the team is playing well.
Jimmy: Tell us something about the bench or the team. How are the players, are they serious or fun loving?
Tushar Khandkar : When the player go out on the field for match or practice that time they are all very serious but after that they are all fun loving .
Jimmy: What do you think should be done to make hockey more attractive?
Jimmy: What are your other interests except hockey?
Tushar Khandkar : I like watching moves, listening to music and shopping. Also I am a complete foodie.
Jimmy: So once you hang up your stick what you intend to do?
Tushar Khandkar : Seriously speaking I do not have a clue about it. I have not given a thought to it. Now is just want to enjoy hockey and win.
Jimmy: Any message for your fans
Tushar Khandkar : I would like to thank all the fans who support hockey. I would ask them to continue supporting hockey as it is our national game. We put our 100% in each and every match for you and the country. Jai Hind.