Surender Kumar has come of age as a defender honing his skills over the years, cementing his position in the national squad as one of the most trusted players in the Indian hockey team backline.

The player from Haryana has been nominated for Hockey India Dhruv Batra Player of the Year 2019 (Men) and Hockey India Pargat Singh Award for Defender of the Year 2019 at the 3rd Annual Awards 2019. The much-awaited event is set to be held in New Delhi on Sunday.

These awards are given in recognition of excellence in performance for the year 2019 and overall contribution to the game of hockey.

Speaking about his nomination, Surender said, “All of us are looking forward to these awards. I had just joined the national camp when the awards happened in Bangalore and was witnessing some of the top players win these awards which was a big motivation to me and great boost to the team.”

The 26-year-old expressed that he is quite happy with the way his career has progressed over the years.

“I’ve been quite fortunate with the way my career has progressed over the years. I still think 2018 was quite crucial for me because I was dropped after the Asia Cup in 2017. I didn’t get to play in the Commonwealth Games in 2018 but I worked hard on the feedback which was provided by the coach on my game. The period I spent in camp after missing the CWG was an important learning curve for me,” said the Defender.

Surender said chief coach Graham Reid has made it clear that a solid defence is what wins games.

“Under Graham, there is a lot of emphasis on attack, but he makes it very clear that a solid defence is what wins matches and our defence must start with the forwards. As a team, we have progressed well. While the Olympics is our main focus, we are aware that doing well in the upcoming matches in the FIH Hockey Pro League will help us improve our world ranking,” he said.