Hockey World Cup | Hungrier after Olympic snub, Akashdeep seeks redemption at World Cup 

Akashdeep Singh, proper, practising together with Mandeep Singh in the course of the FIH Males’s Hockey World Cup on the Kalinga Hockey stadium in Bhubaneswar on January 17, 2023.
| Photograph Credit score: Biswaranjan Rout

Akashdeep Singh has a genuinely heat smile, the sort that assures all the things is nicely with the world. He doesn’t give it too usually, although, which makes his present relaxed manner, exchanging laughs together with his teammates throughout apply a lot extra particular.

It hasn’t been straightforward for the 28-year-old striker with the Indian hockey staff; Akashdeep is an aberration. As a Punjabi, he isn’t flamboyant or extrovert. As a striker, he isn’t flashy; if something, he has an inherent shyness that ensures the highlight stays firmly away. Which is probably one of many causes he has not received as a lot credit score as he deserves for his performances and received greater than his share of criticism each time one thing goes mistaken.

Nonetheless comparatively younger however with a decade-long profession and a number of medals on the Asian and Commonwealth Video games, Akashdeep is among the many senior most gamers within the present aspect. He’s nonetheless the softest speaker, although.

“As you grow, juniors start joining and you need some time to bring an understanding with them. But we stay in camps and spend a lot of time together, so there are no problems. After games also during team debriefings and even otherwise, we talk about having this understanding and where we faltered or missed on the field and areas we need to improve. Such discussions help us keep getting better all the time,” he tells The Hindu publish coaching on Tuesday.

Akashdeep Singh during a training session Wales at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023 at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, on January 17, 2023.

Akashdeep Singh throughout a coaching session Wales on the FIH Odisha Hockey Males’s World Cup 2023 on the Kalinga Hockey Stadium in Bhubaneswar, on January 17, 2023.
| Photograph Credit score:

That he even agreed to talk is a rarity — Akashdeep should be amongst gamers with the fewest media interactions over years, together with press conferences. Technically gifted with nice recreation sense and continuously adapting to the developments within the sport, his one downside has been a scarcity of killer intuition which frequently noticed him draw back even in his hour of glory. This time, nonetheless, he has made an exception, prepared to open himself just a bit.

The excessive and the low

Making his nationwide staff debut as an 18-year-old in 2012 and rapidly cementing his place, Akashdeep was India’s top-scorer on the 2014 World Cup and was named the Hockey India League’s finest younger participant and Hockey India’s Ahead of the 12 months. However for somebody who was a everlasting fixture within the Indian aspect all these years, being dropped for the Tokyo Olympics was an enormous shocker.

“It is very, very difficult to accept a decision like that because when you start playing as a kid, your only dream is to play the Olympics, the World Cup and win medals. When you get dropped for the one tournament you have been playing for so many years, working hard all your life and leaving behind everything, I can’t express in words how bad that moment is for any player. When it happened to me, it was not easy but I still had a meeting with the coach back then and promised him I would work on the things he had mentioned and prove myself all over again on the field,” Akashdeep revealed.

He did, ticking issues off one after the other. “I was mentally disturbed after the drop but then you come back in the team and go to the CWG and win a medal. Then again you are in and out of the Pro League, then again go to Australia against the best team in the world and do well enough to earn a World Cup call-up — it is not just a physical thing.

“I worked a lot on the coach’s reasons for not getting picked for Tokyo — off the ball work, defensive play and running all the way back into out own circle to defend — and it is giving results,” he explains in maybe the primary time causes for his being dropped for Tokyo have been made public.

Staying calm

His intelligence and onerous work on the sector is just not a secret and one of many causes the gamers respect him a lot regardless of his absence in Tokyo, the opposite being his calmness. His spiritual bent of thoughts has additionally helped him loads. “I try to pray 2–3 times a day, it helps me not get agitated and feel mentally relaxed and calm. It is important to do that as much as possible off the ground — the more relaxed you are as a person off the field, the better you can be in taking calm decisions on it,” he explains.

Replying with only a wry snort when requested if he’ll remorse the Olympics miss without end, Akashdeep insists the main focus now’s solely the World Cup. “Of course there is individual hunger, but the entire team’s aim is to do something special this time. Everyone has the same target, a medal. Everything else can wait,” he declares.

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