Shilanand Lakra is on cloud nine these days. The Odisha lad, who is not 19 yet, will be making his debut in the senior level as he has been named in the Sardar Singh-led Indian squad for the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup tournament to be held in Malaysia from 3 March. The Odisha cadet is all set to set to make his mark in the extremely competitive world of men’s hockey.
Shilanand was ecstatic after hearing the news of his selection. “I am on top of the world right now. After all it’s a dream of every junior player to represent the Indian senior team. I feel I am extremely lucky and blessed to be part of the senior team,” was how he put it.
Shilanand was also excited at the prospect of playing under Sardar Singh. “From my junior days, I have been a great fan of Sardar. I have been following his exploits for a long time now and I feel very fortunate to have him as my team captain,” he revealed.
Shilanand, who plays as a forward, is keen to give a good account of himself at the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament. “I want to prove to everyone that I am capable of being a regular for the senior team. I know it’s a very hard thing to achieve but I am ready for whatever hard work it takes to achieve this feat,” said Shilanand.
It is worth mentioning here that Shilanand is a cadet of SAIL Hockey Academy (SHA), Rourkela.
Shilanand, who plays in the forward line, was part of the Junior Team that won the bronze medal at Sultan of Johor Cup held in Malaysia in October 2017.
Shilananand’s parents Lakra and Mary Grace Lakra, are natives of Kalijapathar village, Sundargarh district of Odisha, joined the SAIL Hockey Academy in August 2015. Since then he has been learning the nuances of hockey from veterans like former national junior Indian hockey player Peter Lakra, and NIS Coach Raju Kant Sainis.
Recently, the SHA Team has brought laurels by winning Shri Nabagraha Trophy All India Invitation Hockey Tournament in Khargaon, Madhya Pradesh, from 18th to 21st January’2018. In the same month, SHA team played some outstanding hockey in the 8th Vinod Khandekar Under-21 All India Gold Cup Hockey Tournament (affiliated to Hockey India) held in Jhansi, U.P., from 23rd to 31st January’2018. The team also won the trophy against Railway Hockey Academy in Bhusawal, Maharastra.
The SAIL Hockey Academy (SHA) was set up in 1992 by SAIL on 15 acres of land at Rourkela, which is known to the hockey heartland of India. Thereafter, in order to provide a centre dedicated to the promotion of the game, an exclusive Hockey Stadium was also built at Rourkela. In June 2005, the most modern facility of Synthetic Turf was installed in the hockey stadium. Besides the hockey academy at Rourkela, SAIL has two football academies at Bokaro and Burnpur, an athletics academy for boys at Bhilai, and one for girls at Durgapur. It also has an archery academy at Kiriburu. A number of SHA players have contributed for Indian Hockey.