Bengaluru, Mar 18 : Making his debut against World Champions Belgium at FIH Hockey Pro League in February, Raj Kumar Pal says he lived up to the expectations and played on-par with his experienced teammates. While his aim now is to stay focused and work towards earning a spot in the India Team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, said he. The 21-year-old hailing from Uttar Pradesh is currently part of the on-going national coaching camp for senior men's Hockey team in SAI, Bengaluru.
"I had joined the SAI Sports Hostel in 2010 itself but after my father passed away (in 2011), and difficulties at home had almost made me give up hockey but as fate would have it, I rejoined the SAI Sports Hostel in 2012 after my mother pursuaded me," stated an emotional Raj Kumar. Raj Kumar, burst into the domestic scene during an U-14 tournament in Lucknow in 2010. He was spotted by Hockey India High Performance Director David John during the Hockey India Senior Men National Championships in 2018.
"I was called up for the national camp for the first time in 2018 but it took me a while to get used to the training techniques and game-sense. But I was constantly encouraged by Lalit bhai (Upadhyay, India forward also from Uttar Pradesh) who made me understand that it was important to stick to 'simple hockey' and not feel pressurised," recalled Raj Kumar who is the first from Karampur village to don the India jersey. (UNI)