PR Sreejesh takes Junior Hockey World Cup as an opportunity to work on his coaching skills
The Indian Hockey team captain and goalkeeper, PR Sreejesh, has been out since an ankle injury in the Asian Champions Trophy in October this year. Since the man from Kerala cannot afford to get back to playing games, he is utilising the ongoing men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in order to hone his skills in coaching as well as working on his fitness.
Apparently, Sreejesh has a long-term target of pursuing a coaching role, and hence is part of the Junior Indian squad’s coaching team, as a goalkeeping consultant. He believes that while this decision of taking up the role will help him in the future it will also help up and coming goalkeeping prospects Vikas Dahiya and Krishan B Pathak.
Sreejesh, in the run up to the Junior World cup, requested the team management to involve him in the regular squad training along with him training the Indian colts over the course of the tournament. Considering that this step will help Sreejesh as well as the players, the team management approved of his request.
"I was about to undergo my rehabilitation after the injury I sustained during the Asian Champions Trophy and then a thought suddenly came into mind to train with the junior side. I asked the coaching staff and Roelant (Oltmans) about it and they readily agreed," he said on the sidelines of the tournament to PTI.
Sreejesh considers this opportunity to study and analyze himself. “This opportunity will give me an idea about where I am making mistakes because teaching is all about learning," he said.
More than technical, it's about the mental part
"Coaching is something I look up to after I finish my international career. But right now it's all about helping the juniors by sharing experience and tips. Now you can only do polishing for these people. You can't do any visible changes. You can bring in some confidence.”
He adds that since he has been in the junior player’s situation as well, he understands the way they think. "Being a goalkeeper, you can motivate them. Even they can relate to it, thinking that I've been in similar situations that they face. They will take my words seriously because of that,"
"Goalkeeping is a different story in hockey. More than technical, it's about the mental part. In 70 minutes, you will get the ball twice or thrice. Now, if one concedes a goal early, he's going to get another chance after a very long time.
"So I talk to them mainly about preparing themselves mentally for the match and how to control the negative or positive moments in the match. You can't make a couple of saves and be on a high. You need to keep your mind stable for rest of the match,” he said with a grin on his face.
PR Sreejesh has taken over South African Dave Staniforth, who was previously preparing the goalkeepers ahead of the Juniors World cup. However, even Sreejesh had to wait for a long time for a chance to play for the senior side, after his predecessor Baljeet Singh sustained a career-ruining eye injury in 2009.
"I just didn't play 10 or 15 tournaments and got into the senior team. I waited a lot. You need experience. You can't feel good about yourself by making a couple of saves, nor should you get demotivated after conceding a few of goals. You can't achieve everything overnight. You have to be patient," said the man who is considered as one of the finest keepers in the country.