Hockey (Junior Men): India

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


2001: World champions

India claimed the gold medal for the first time in 2001 at Hobart.

2016: World champions

The finals

The Times of India, Dec 19 2016

Asheem Mukerji

Hosts Turn On Style In Lucknow, Clinch World Cup, This was India's second win in the championship

It was a Super Sunday for the Indians as they turned on the style to `reverse-stick' past Belgium and claim the Junior Men Hockey World Cup at Major Dhyan Chand stadium.

Reserving their best for the final day, the home side called the shots from the very start to catch the rivals on the wrong foot to register a 2-1 verdict. For India, both the goals came off reverse hits.

The final scoreline may not suggest a true picture, as the home side dominated the game and had the European team on the back foot during most of the 70 minutes.

Rattling the Red Cougars with the speed, skill and some immaculate passing, India wasted two short corners early in the match before Gurjant Singh provided India the lead in the eighth minute. He came up with a cracker of a reverse hit from an acute angle to beat Loic Van Doren.

That provided the tempo to the evening, as India doubled the lead 14 minutes later. This time, Simran jeet Singh and Nilakanta Sharma did a 1-2 to hoodwink the Belgians defenders and the former finished it off with a fine reverse hit.

It was one-way ticket in the opening half. As ever, skipper Harjeet Singh was the mainstay at the middle to help the Indians control the game. With forwards Mandeep Singh, Simranjeet, Manpreet Junior and Armaan Qureshi keeping the Belgian defence busy, Indians had the rivals on the run.

After the breather, visitors slowed down the pace of the game. That helped them create some chances, but the Indian defence stood tall to the task. The only time their defence cracked was in the final minute of the game. That time, Fabrice Van Bockrijck defeated the Indians with a strong drag-flick off their second set-piece. In comparision, India earned four penalty corners.

The series of events

The Times of India, Dec 20 2016

JaspreetSingh Sahni 

When Captain Harjeet Lifted The Junior WC, His Father, A Truck Driver, Was Away On Duty In Maharashtra

It took 15 years coming, but when it did, the Junior Hockey World Cup gold turned a satisfying year for Indian hockey into a memorable one. Never before in the history of hockey had India won a Champions Trophy silver and a Junior World Cup in the same year. It's no mean feat in a sport that has often relied on its 20th century chronicles to win the support of people.

The story behind this golden success, in particular, must act as a catalyst and not be allowed to become another flash in the pan. Behind this script are multiple actors and factors that proved to be the pivots on which India turned it around to reclaim the throne in the City of Nawabs. When you come to know that captain Harjeet Singh's father, who is a truck driver by profession, was away on duty in Maharashtra while his son lifted the trophy , the many unknown facets of this team come to the fore.

Harendra's masterplan

Harendra Singh was given the charge of India juniors -a pool of 42 players -in 2014. It was then that he drafted his Mission 2016. The seriousness of Harendra's approach towards pruning this team to 18 could be seen in the minutest details he went into ­ like creating a Whatsapp group titled `Mission 2016', drafting a team slogan, handing out a print to every player and listing 31 words starting with letter `C' to counter any situation on or off the pitch. The world `champion' was added to the list on Sunday to make it 32. The Boys in Blue kept crossing milestones -2015 Junior Asia Cup and the four-nations trophy in Valencia in 2016 -before accomplishing final mission.

Surjit Hockey Academy

The role of Surjit Hockey Academy in India's WC success is huge, as 10 of the 18 players are from the famous hockey nursery in Jalandhar.Harjeet, Mandeep Singh, Harmanpreet Singh, Varun Kumar, Simranpreet Singh, Krishan Pathak, Hardik Singh, Gurinder Singh, Vikramjeet Singh and Parvinder Singh are all products of the academy . Include Gurjant Singh, who shifted from Surjit Academy to the Punjab Institute of Sports, and you have an entire team coming from a single academy .In fact, most of the boys in the above list have been together since schooldays, having played together for more than 10 years, including now for the national team. That explains the coordination of this team.

Seniors in the squad

Striker Mandeep (with over 50 caps), playmaker Harjeet and dragflicker Harmanpreet (part of Rio Olympics team) already have the senior-team experience. The trio had said before the start of the WC that the experience of having played with the senior team would help them “prepare for the big matches“. It did make a difference as they led from the front in the knockouts.

Sreejesh in the dugout

Some observers were surprised to see senior India captain and goalkeeper PR Sreejesh in the junior dugout. Some even called it a strategic move by the star goalkeeper to angle for a future job with Hockey India. In fact, it was a selfless move by a player recovering from injury , who wanted to make the most of his time off. Sreejesh's presence was felt when he guided Vikas Dahiya during the shootout against Australia in semifinal.

The route to the championship

The Times of India, , Dec 19 2016

Boys showed they were champion class 

You've asked a critical qu estion“, said the Indian junior hockey team's coach Harendra Singh, before tears rolled down his cheeks.This correspondent had asked him if he felt like an underachiever, both as player and coach. That was six weeks ago. At that moment, Harendra revealed a pledge he took in 1998, when he became a coach, after being dumped as a player from the national team.

Harendra's investment paid off in Lucknow as the Harjeet Singh-led side edged out Belgium 2-1 to become the first host nation to win the junior World Cup hockey crown. The victory caps an emotional journey of a team which was carved out of raw talent and brought together in April 2014. The team has made plenty of sacrifices. Second goalkeeper Krishan Pathak didn't attend the funeral of his father who passed away a few mon ths ago, as the team was heading to England for a series. Seven members of the junior hockey team, including cap tain Harjeet, are sons of driv ers. They have battled the odds from a very young age, but have all been driven by the common goal of winning the Cup.

Given the team's strengths, a podium finish was expected, but the quality of hockey and the amazing emotional strength they displayed on the field highlighted the fact that they were champion material. The victory by itself was no flash in the pan, the team having won the Junior Asia Cup last year and also the last build-up event -a four-nation tournament in Valencia, Spain.

A lot has happened in Indian hockey over the past eight years.From a side which did not make it to Beijing Olympics in 2008, to the wooden spoon at London four years later, and the eighth-place finish in Rio this year for the senior side.The climb uphill has been slow, but purposeful. In fact, the golden show by the colts caps a great year for Indian hockey in which the senior team has also achived significant progress and is now ranked No. 6 in the world.

T he juniors have ended a 15-year-old World Cup drought. One hopes it gets translated into brighter days for Indian hockey.

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