Feb 25, 2011

Interview with Shivendra Singh

Calm and composed striker Shivendra Singh is an integral part of Indian hockey team. His importance can be measured by the fact that , Indian team struggled  when he was suspended after first game of World Cup and his stroke against England helped India to secure a berth in the final of CWG 2010.  Sportskeeda’s hockey editor had a chat with him.
Shivendra Singhs's Signature Salute
Shivendra Singhs's Signature Salute
Jimmy : Tell us something about your journey from early days to being one of most important player of Indian hockey team?
Shivendra Singh : I started playing hockey at the age of 12, but my parents used to scold me for that. I was the youngest in the family. My elder brother, who is now working with Central Railways,  is also a hockey player and he was posted in Nagpur. My journey as a hockey player started from there. He used to go to the hockey stadium to practice and I regularly followed him.  After playing a few junior district tournaments I decided to go for trials for the SAI (Sports Association of India) , Sefai (U.P) in 1998 and got selected. A year later I joined Mumbai SAI.  Mumbai gave me many opportunities to prove myself. I played for the Tata’s team on contract basis for the next two years. Then I joined Western Railways in 2002 and during that period I got the chance to play in many invitational tournaments, junior nationals etc. I got my biggest break in the year 2005 when I represented Maratha warriors in first edition of PHL in Hyderabad and won the bronze medal.
My life changed when I played in the 2nd edition of PHL in Chandigarh.  In that tournament I got the chance to prove myself and that was the only platform at that time that could help me to achieve my goal (i.e. representing the Indian team). By God’s grace whatever chances I got that time, I converted them to goals. And I think scoring goals for my team was my strength and for that only I got the chance to represent my Indian hockey team. I was very happy because representing the country is the only thing for which every player works so hard and I think I am very lucky that I got this chance.
Jimmy : Who has been you idol or the person who has influenced you the most?
Shivendra Singh :There are two people who have influenced me. One of them is my respected brother and second is my adorable wife (Nishi) who is also a hockey player.
Jimmy : What has been your most cherished moment so far as a player?
Shivendra Singh : Most cherished moment for me was the time when I got selected for the first time in Indian team and second was when I went to take stroke against England in CWG and with my goal, our team reached the finals.
Jimmy : And what has been your biggest challenge so far?
Shivendra Singh : Winning Gold medal in major tournaments.
Jimmy : Who is your favourite hockey player? (Former and Current)
Shivendra Singh : Among the former players, it is Mr. Dhanraj Pillay and Jamie Dwyer among the current players.
Jimmy : Indian team missed out on Gold medal in Asian Games, which means you will have to win qualifiers in order to compete in Olympics? Does it add pressure to the team and the players?
Shivendra Singh : Yes, it is right that we have to qualify for Olympics but we are in no performance pressure,  because the Asian Games semi-final against Malaysia was the only match we lost and which turned the whole picture. So you can say that day was not ours. Whole tournament for as such was excellent and it was only one match and one day that changed the picture … Anyways I don’t want to remember bad things… Right now I just want to focus on upcoming tournament for which the whole team has a positive attitude.
Shivendra Singh with CWG Medal
Shivendra Singh with CWG Medal
Jimmy : How would you rate the year 2010 for the Indian hockey and what are your expectations from the year 2011?
Shivendra Singh : 2010 was a good year for Indian hockey, we won medals in Commonwealth Games and Asian Games and improved our ranking in World cup. But yes, we do have to work harder to convert these silver and bronze medals into GOLD Medal. In 2011 we have major competitions like the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup at the start of the season and then the most important Olympic qualifiers, so it will be a busy year for us….
Jimmy : Once a powerhouse of hockey, Indian hockey is not able to compete with the likes of Australia and Germany. What could be the reason for that?

Shivendra Singh : See, they are currently the best teams in the world and playing with them is not an easy task but it does not mean we are not good enough. There are certain things which the whole team has to concentrate on, like converting short corners, finishing, match per match strategy. And we are working hard on them.

Jimmy : Media plays a major part in educating the people about different things. Do you think media has failed to give appropriate coverage to hockey, which happens to be our national game?
Shivendra Singh : I won’t say it has failed. Though its true if compared to cricket  we are, of course, far behind in terms of coverage. Hockey is our national game but still we don’t get enough coverage.
Jimmy : Please say something about domestic structure of Indian hockey.
Shivendra Singh : Domestic hockey is going through a very tough time. Hardly any tournament is conducted and even if its done, players don’t get even the basic facilities. And whatever tournaments are organised they are for men.  The Situation is far worse for the Women’s team.
Jimmy : What is the one thing that you would like to change about hockey?
Shivendra Singh : One thing that I would like to change is the standard of the game in terms of money, recognition and fame. Players should be proud of being a hockey player.
Shivendra singh with Prabhjot
Shivendra singh with Prabhjot
Jimmy : You salute the crowd after scoring goal. Any special meaning of the salute?
Shivendra Singh : It is a big motivation when people come to cheer us. This salute is to thank them. This salute is for the people of India and respect for my country.
Jimmy : What is your advice to young hockey players who are coming up?

Shivendra Singh : I would advise them to work real hard with positive attitude and maintain discipline so that they can take our national flag higher and higher. I want to see my national flag on the top , always.
Jimmy : Any pre-match superstitious or rituals?

Shivendra Singh : Yes, but not always. Before leaving the room for match I usually talk to my family and wife for their best wishes and finally pray to god to help me come back victorious.
Jimmy : Any message of hockey fans?
Shivendra Singh : Keep coming to watch our matches because we need your support and wishes. Thanks to all the hockey fans on my and our team’s behalf.

(This interview was taken by me for www.sportskeeda.com)

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