Its never easy to comeback after an injury. Often the the best of sportspersons have a long and ardous way back from an injury layoff. For India’s best hockey goalkeeper, P.R. Sreejesh is fully aware of the mountain he has to scale after missing out on top flight action ever since he was injured in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia last May.
Sreejesh, who had to undego a surgery has since then played in only one international tournament since then, says he is determined to reach peak fitness. “I know this is a very big year as we have the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and the World Cup. I am determined to put in as much hard work as is required,” said the 26-year-old from Kerala.
Ever the pragmatist that he is, Sreejesh admits he has a long way to go. “I know that I have a quite a long way to go in terms of attainting my top form. Modern hockey is all about fitness and confidence. The pre-injury Sreejesh is history. This one is something new. You can›t rely on what you were. I had to build up something new,» he added.
“Post surgery, I had a big transformation. I am totally changed. Now, I don’t want to be what I was. I want to be better than what I was,” he added.
Sreejesh recounted the tough post surgery recovery, Sreejesh said the entire journey made him change his perception in life as well. “I saw life in a different perspective. I realised life as a person other than hockey and how my family members function in day-to-day life. In sporting terms), when you comeback from injury, you start from scratch. You need to learn how to walk, how to run. That was a difficult period for me being a goalkeeper, you cannot move like you were able to before (the injury). A goalkeeper has added weights. I was determined. In two months, I started to jog and three months’ time, I started to wear pads — I followed a perfect process, Sreejesh said.
Talking about the busy period till December, Sreejesh said: «Every match is important for us. It is important to save your energy and avoid injuries. Pressure is there but we have experienced players and the younger players are also getting their chances going into the big events.”
Meanwhile the International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Narinder Batra said that Bhubaneswar›s Kalinga Stadium, with an increased crowd capacity of 15,000, will be almost ready by July, months before it hosts the Hockey World Cup beginning on November 28.
Batra said the FIH is pleased with the work carried out by the Odisha government in making Kalinga Stadium ready for the quadrennial hockey showpiece, to run from November 28 to December 16. “Earlier, the main stadium had a capacity of 7,500. Before the World Cup, that crowd capacity will be doubled — currently seating arrangements are being done,” Batra told IANS on the sidelines of an event to announce Odisha’s sponsorship association with the national men’s and women’s hockey teams.
Batra went on to add that, “New turfs will be laid at both the grounds inside the stadium. And the work will be completed by July,”
The FIH has asked the state government to arrange accommodation for around 1000 players and officials from the participating countries. On his part, Batra, the former Hockey India (HI) President thanked Odisha for its support.
In his capacity as Indian Olympic Association (IOA President), he also requested Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to build a High Performance Centre for all sporting disciplines.