Versatile hockey midfielder Sumit has said that winning gold at the Asian Games is the main priority of team India as it will enable them to directly qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“We want to win a gold medal at the Hangzhou Asian Games, which will ensure our direct qualification for the Olympics,” said Sumit, who played a key role in India winning a bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics.
Talking to Hockey India in Bengaluru, he opined that the upcoming matches of the FIH Pro League in Europe will provide the team a perfect platform to prepare for important tournaments including the Asian Champions Trophy, to be held in Chennai from August 3 to 12.
Sumit, a member of the 39-core probable, is currently sweating it out at the national camp in Bengaluru ahead of the Europe tour, where they will take on Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Argentina in the remaining season of the Pro League.
“We are confident of giving our best performance in the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League games in Europe as they will be crucial for our preparations for important tournaments like Hero Asian Champions Trophy and the upcoming Asian Games,” he said.
“FIH Men’s Hockey Pro League 2022/23 in Europe will help us fine-tune our team structure and strengthen bonds among players. It will also help us reckon the aspects of our game which need to be improved.”
Sumit, however, was out of action for some time after the Olympics as he was left out of India’s squad for the World Cup, jointly held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela earlier this year.
However, Sonipat-born midfielder did not give up hope of returning to the team for the FIH Men’s Hockey Pro League 2022-2023 in Rourkela. He put up a good show in the Rourkela leg of the tournament as India defeated the mighty Australians and world Champions Germany twice.
Sumit talked about his return to the team and performance in Rourkela, saying, “I played as a defensive midfielder in all the games in Rourkela, which helped me in doing better because it provided me with a clarity of thought that was missing earlier as I used to play at multiple positions. Moreover, as I was returning to the team after quite a time, I was eager to put my best foot forward and make the most of this opportunity.”
Meanwhile, experienced defender Amit Rohidas has stressed the need for physical fitness saying “It’s important for the team to stay on top of their fitness level. We are working really hard in the ongoing camp with the focus being on fitness, building our core and improving our agility. It is a busy year of hockey and it’s important we remain fresh from tournament-to-tournament and emphasis is also on a good recovery process to avoid small injuries.”
Amit is in the 39-member Core Group which is gearing up for the upcoming FIH Hockey Pro League games in Europe India currently leads the points table after their magnificent show in Rourkela where they remained unbeaten against World Champions Germany and Australia.
“Last time we finished third in the League. In the FIH Hockey Pro League, we have typically done well at home but the challenge is when we play abroad and this time, we aim to keep up the winning streak when the matches move to Europe,” he said .