Hangzhou [China], September 22 (ANI): Indian Men's Hockey Team defender Sanjay considers it a great honour to have the opportunity to represent India at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou. This will be the Haryana-born hockey player's maiden appearance at the mega event. The 22-year-old shared his thoughts of playing in his first Asian Games.
"It feels dreamlike that I will be representing India at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou. It is a moment of pride for me to wear the Indian jersey at this prestigious event. Everyone in my family was elated to hear the news that I was part of the team. It is a feeling that I cannot express in words. This will be my first major tournament with the senior team and I will give my best to make this opportunity count. It is good that we arrived here well in advance, so it's helping us to settle in and get acclimated to the weather over here. We have also been around the stadium. The venue is nice and the facilities provided are world-class," he said, according to a Hockey India release.
"The training has been going well under the leadership of Indian Men's Hockey Team Chief Coach Craig Fulton. We have been working on improving our strengths, weaknesses and ensuring that we do not make the same mistakes again. We have a great camaraderie between each other and we are all constantly talking to each other about aspects of sports where we can do better," he added. The defender hails from Dabra village near Hisar in Haryana. He was one of the most promising talents from the 2021 Junior Hockey World Cup held in Bhubaneswar. Sanjay was the highest scorer with eight goals in the tournament, which also included two hat-tricks. He was also in the squad which lifted the inaugural FIH Hockey5s, which took place in June 2022.
Sanjay was also part of the Four-Nation tournament in Spain held in July. The drag-flicker was part of India's FIH Pro League 2022-2023 matches held in Europe, where he played seven matches and also scored his first goal against The Netherlands. With a chance to earn a direct Paris Olympics 2024 qualification, the Indian Men's Hockey Team will open their 19th Asian Games Hangzhou campaign against Uzbekistan on September 24. Talking about representing India at the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou 2022 and locking horns against some quality teams, Sanjay said all the players in the team are aware of what is at stake here.
"We only want to win the Gold medal. Yes, there are some quality teams in the tournament but we cannot take any of them lightly. We will take it match by match and give it all every time we take the field." "The morale in the team is also high after lifting the Asian Champions Trophy Chennai 2023 trophy. We want to build on this momentum going into the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou. Over the past few months, we have played several tournaments in the lead-up to the 19th Asian Games Hangzhou, where we were up against strong teams, so that will definitely help us and give confidence to the players," he concluded.
Schedule of the Indian Men's Hockey Team:September 24, India Vs Uzbekistan at 0845 hrs ISTSeptember 26, India Vs Singapore at 0630 hrs ISTSeptember 28, India Vs Japan at 1815 hrs ISTSeptember 30, India Vs Pakistan at 1815 hrs ISTOctober 2, India Vs Bangladesh at 1315 hrs IST. (ANI)