India men’s hockey defender Varun Kumar has credited senior players for supporting him during his long injury layoff. The 25-year-old has been selected in India’s squad for FIH Pro League matches against Argentina in Buenos Aires on April 11 and 12.
The Indian team has already flown to Argentina. In addition to the two FIH Pro League matches, the Manpreet Singh-led side will also play four practice matches as part of the preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. India are slated to play eight FIH Pro League matches as per the schedule.
The last time Varun Kumar played for India was during their tour to Belgium in 2019. Since then, his career has been set back due to injuries. First, his shoulder injury took him five to six months to recover. Then he was tested COVID-19 positive. Varun Kumar’s return was further pushed back after he suffered a hamstring injury.
“My world had collapsed at that point,” the Punjab-based Varun Kumar said recalling his last one and half year. It wasn’t easy for me. Being out for a long period would sometimes take a toll on me mentally and my mind would begin to wander.”
It was tough for Varun Kumar to accept the fact in the beginning and then came the senior who advised him to stay strong and injuries are part and parcel of any game.
“I slowly began to accept that such injuries, and the subsequent layoff periods, are a part and parcel of a player’s life. My coaches and the senior players in the side such as Manpreet Singh, PR Sreejesh and Rupinder Pal Singh guided me a lot,” Varun Kumar explained.
“They are big players who have seen many highs and lows in their careers. They told me to work hard on regaining my fitness and giving my 100 percent once the opportunity comes along. Their advice helped me immensely,” Varun Kumar added.
Varun Kumar targets Tokyo Olympics ticket
With the Tokyo Olympics just a few months away, Varun Kumar’s target is to make the flight to Tokyo. Although he has been out of competitive action for so long, Varun Kumar is confident of getting into the groove soon and believes the hard work is paying for him.
“Even though I’ve been out of competitive action for a while, I can get into the rhythm of playing very soon. The opportunity to play in the Olympics is also an added boost; it’s a dream for any player. So I am keen to make an impact for my team whenever I get to play,” Varun Kumar concluded.