Sardar Singh banking on playing experience to deliver results at Birmingham CWG as India ‘A’ coach

Sardar Singh has no coaching experience nor has he trained for the job, but the former national hockey captain believes his 12 years of international experience will be enough to ensure he gets the most out of the Indian ‘A’ team, who will be competing at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham this year.

Sardar and former striker Deepak Thakur have been named coaches of India’s men’s and women’s ‘A’ hockey teams respectively which will compete at the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

“It’s obviously a challenge for me, but after playing at the highest level for so many years, I’m confident that I can deliver results. It’s an honor and a privilege for me to have the chance to giving back to the game that gave me my identity,” Sardar said in an interview with PTI shortly after his appointment.

This was after Hockey India decided not to send the main teams for the multi-sport event due to the short time between CWG and the Asian Games in Hangzhou, which is a qualifying tournament for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

The two events will take place just 32 days apart and the national federation is keen to keep its first-choice players fresh for the Asian Games. Sardar looks forward to his new “challenging” assignment.

“I don’t have any coaching experience, but I’ve mentored aspiring players while playing hockey at clubs in the Netherlands and Germany. Having played hockey for almost 13 years, I know my experience will be key,” said the former midfielder, who retired from international hockey in 2018.

In a surprise development, Tokyo’s Olympic bronze medal winning duo of Rupinder Pal Singh and Birender Lakra along with veteran striker SV Sunil have returned from retirement and been named among the men’s probable 33 crore to be eligible for selection. for the Birmingham CWG team.

The trio retired in quick succession just after the Tokyo Olympics last year.

Sardar, who played alongside the trio, believes their comments will play a crucial role in the Indian team’s success in Birmingham.

“It’s great that I can work with senior players like Rupinder, Lakra and Sunil. They have a lot of international experience. Rupinder and Lakra are Olympic medalists and Sunil is a world-class striker.

“They know what it takes to succeed at the highest level and can share their experiences with junior players,” he said.

“I will definitely take their feedback while working with the boys.”

The Indian men’s and women’s A’ teams presented themselves at the national camp at the SAI Center in Bengaluru on Monday.

Sardar, himself a fitness freak who once beat Virat Kohli in the yo-yo test in 2018, said there would be no compromise in this area, which is a key part of fast-paced modern hockey.

“Fitness is something I will not compromise on. Although I retired almost four years ago, I still follow a strict fitness regimen. Physical fitness is crucial for success in any sport these days and in world hockey there is no room for unfit players.

“You can see India’s current senior hockey team which is one of the fittest in the world and their hard work over the years culminated in the bronze medal in Tokyo,” said the gold medalist. of the Incheon Asian Games in 2014.

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