Brilliant To Share With Kids What Hockey Has Given Us: Rupinder Pal Singh On Hockey India's Grassroots Development Initiative

Hockey India has organised a three-day training program at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi for up-and-coming drag-flickers and goalkeepers, with former Indian player Rupinder Pal Singh teaching a few kids how to perfect their drag-flicking skills. He speaks to Times Now on the programme, the upcoming Hockey India League and India's performance in Australia.
Rupinder Pal Singh

Rupinder Pal Singh.

Hockey India has organised a three-day training program at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium in New Delhi for up-and-coming drag-flickers and goalkeepers, with former Indian player Rupinder Pal Singh teaching a few kids how to perfect their drag-flicking skills. Former India goalkeepers like Yogita Bali and Bharat Chetri are also part of the extensive program.
Rupinder speaks to Times Now on how he thinks this initiative will increase the pool at the top of ace drag-flickers and goalkeepers, on the upcoming Hockey India League and what are the areas the Indian men's team needs to improve ahead of the big Paris Olympics test. Excerpts:
How do you see this initiative by Hockey India to nurture drag-flicking talent at the grassroots level?
I think this is one of the greatest initiatives by Hockey India in that they have gathered several former players to groom grassroots-level players. It is amazing for us as well to share our hockey knowledge with these kids. They will also have the motivation of working with former players, something that we didn't get at this level. We got these advantages only when we reached the national camp.
Here, the kids are getting it at 12-16 years of age, which is a very big step for them.
Once this campaign is done, how does Hockey India look to take the chosen players further?
We will be training the drag-flickers and goalkeepers from all the NCOs and then pick and choose the best ones from there. The second lot of players will undergo extensive training thereon. If we can even pick two players from each academy, it would go on to increase the pool at the top. With the increasing competition, India will eventually get the best drag-flickers and goalkeepers.
What have your conversations been with the likes of Jugraj Singh?
Jugraj Sir has been a coach since a long time now, he has been a great India player and we keep speaking to each other. His experiences are quite different from mine. It just enhances the amount of information that these kids get from our varied experiences.
The Hockey India League is all set to make a comeback next year. What are your views on it?
I think this league is the best platform for youngsters. From 2013-2017, when the league ran, the Indian team has improved a lot since then. It is a great experience for the youngsters to share a dressing room with national level players as well as former players. World's best players are featuring together in one league.
How do you analyse India's recent performance in Australia? What are the areas you think they can improve on?
The Indian team needs to improve on their penalty corner defence because they conceded most of the goals from that area, which is a major concern. They also need to focus on scoring more field goals.
At Paris, not just Australia India also have Belgium in the same pool as them, which has almost made it a group of death. How do you analyse the group?
The Indian team shouldn't look at the pool a lot and focus on the match at hand. The first aim needs to be to reach the knockouts. From there on, you have to give your 100% for every game. They have been training for long now and they are definitely focusing on certain aspects and they should continue with that.
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