Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], Mar 18 (ANI): Indian hockey team midfielder Raj Kumar Pal, who made his debut against Belgium in the Pro Hockey League, said it was the biggest moment of his life to play the first game against World Champions.
"My focus was on executing the role that coach had entrusted me with. Playing against the World Champions in my first international match was the biggest moment of my life and I wanted to ensure I lived up to the expectations," Pal said.
The 21-year-old is currently part of the on-going national coaching camp for the senior men's team at Sports Authority of India (SAI) centre in Bengaluru.
The midfielder was born in Karampur village in Ghazipur district of Uttar Pradesh, burst into the domestic scene during U-14 tournament in Lucknow in 2010.
A prodigy of coach Tej Bahadur Singh in Meghbaran Stadium where he began playing hockey alongside his two elder brothers at the age of 10. He was part of the SAI Sports Hostel, Lucknow when he was spotted by Hockey India High Performance Director David John during the Hockey India Senior Men National Championships in 2018.
"I was called up for the national camp for the first time in 2018 but it took me a while to get used to the training techniques and game-sense. I used to feel a lot of pressure initially because the hockey we played back home was very different from what the senior team played," Pal recalled.
"But I was constantly encouraged by Lalit bhai (Upadhyay, India forward also from Uttar Pradesh) who made me understand that it was important to stick to 'simple hockey' and not feel pressurised," he added.
After he impressed again during the previous edition of the Hockey India Senior Men National Championships in 2019, Raj Kumar was called-up for National Camp in Bhubaneswar last year.
The newcomer is giving his cent per cent and aiming to make it to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics squad.
"My only aim now is to give my 100 per cent for the team, stay focused in everyday training and try to make the squad for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Since then I have constantly been with the team and Chief Coach Reid is very patient and explains to me what exactly I need to focus on and how I need to cope with the demands of hockey at this level," Pal said. (ANI)