India’s historic bronze medal-winning feat at the Tokyo Olympics has changed the face of hockey in the country and inspired youngsters to take up the game, feels ace defender Amit Rohidas.
Rohidas said a lot of village kids are eagerly waiting for the FIH men’s World Cup, to be jointly hosted by Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, from January 13 to 29. “The bronze medal at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has changed a lot of things. Youngsters who didn’t play hockey earlier have now taken to the sport in the villages," Rohidas said on Hockey Te Charcha - a podcast series initiated by Hockey India.
“When I visit home and see such a sight, it makes me feel very good. Almost every school has seen an increase in youngsters picking up hockey." Rohidas, who hails from Odisha, said playing the World Cup on home turf is an emotional affair for any player.
“Playing at home is a very different feeling because the crowds are very supportive and they really cheer for you and motivate you. We have Indian fans to watch us outside India as well, but in Odisha, the fans bring a different level of energy, which gives us extra motivation." Rohidas said a step-by-step approach leading up to the World Cup will be key to India’s success in the showpiece.
“First are our matches in the FIH Hockey Men’s Pro League 2022-2023 in Bhubaneswar, and then we go to Australia for a series and then the FIH Odisha Hockey Men’s World Cup 2023, Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.
“We are taking it step by step, game by game. Our training sessions are continuing with good intensity and we doing our best to ensure we get things right," he said.
With over 100 appearances for India, Rohidas said he has managed to curb his aggressive instinct over the years.
“I had an aggressive streak in myself earlier, but in the last few years, I have learnt a lot from the senior players about handling pressure, and ensuring that my reaction does not affect the team’s plans in a negative way.
“I try to keep aggression on the inside so that it doesn’t show on the field," he said.
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