New Delhi: Former Indian goalkeeper Adrian D’Souza has lauded Hockey India’s Sub-Junior National programme for its outstanding initiative in nurturing young talent.
In the latest episode of Hockey Te Charcha, Adrian, who had recently joined the coaching staff at the Sub-Junior National Camp for men and women in Rourkela, shared his thoughts on the program’s positive impact on budding hockey players and its potential to foster future champions.
Sharing his enthusiasm for his new role, Adrian said, “Just wearing the T-shirt where you have to represent India makes me feel very happy and blessed. But at the same time, it’s the first time that I’m on the coaching side, not on the players’ bench. I’m looking forward to it. There are good young goalkeepers in the Sub Junior Teams, and I think it’s the perfect age to help them with their basics and certain things.”
Adrian further emphasised the significance of giving an India kit to Sub Junior players in the first week of the camp and said, “Imagine the first week itself, you get an India kit. You know, it starts with that. Because every player, anyone who wants to play and represent the country, will always dream of wearing a jersey, having the Indian armband around them, and hearing the national anthem. If you can give these dreams to youngsters at this age, imagine what they will achieve five years down the line.”
Moreover, D’Souza highlighted the holistic approach of the camp, which offers players an experience similar to being in an Olympic village. This includes a press setup, and it prepares the young talents for more than just on-field performance. They are learning from accomplished coaches, including Sardar Singh, Rani, Asunta Lakra, Lazarus Barla, and Lilima Minz, who are imparting modern hockey skills along with a strong emphasis on mastering the basics.
Indian hockey has seen significant progress in skill development and fitness over the last decade, and D’Souza expressed his confidence in the Sub Junior Teams’ potential for future success, “We are going to get and achieve the Gold in one of the future tournaments very soon. Because we are on the right track. And having these young guys, coaches like Sardar and Rani, who are still good players today in the current form of modern hockey, are teaching the right notes to these kids.”
Meanwhile, Adrian D’Souza also shared insights into the growth of fellow goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, whom he has known since Sreejesh was 16 years old.
D’Souza’s advice to Sreejesh was to develop his own style rather than mimic other goalkeepers. “Because as goalkeepers, we always try to copy another goalkeeper. It goes without saying. We used to watch videos. I have got advice from seniors saying, ‘Hey, you got to be your own style.’ And that made such a big impact because no matter what we learn, our walking style, our talking style is going to be a bit different in life,” he said.
D’Souza also reflected on the development of Sreejesh, who initially faced language barriers and cultural shocks as he joined the Indian junior camp. “We used to always stay aloof. But because everything was so new to him, the language barriers, the cultural shock, and the training schedule… And today, we all know, what a book enthusiast Sreejesh is,” he said.
Adrian concluded by saying, “Sreejesh has actually proved that one can succeed despite coming from a culture where it’s hard to get within the community. He is at a different level completely and it feels so nice to watch him enjoying his hockey. Sreejesh is a perfect idol to the young generation.”