Tirkey gung-ho about India’s future prospects
Prabodh Tirkey is having the time of his life. Named captain of the Indian hockey team a couple of months ago, Tirkey played a stellar role as the inexperienced side bagged bronze medals in two successive tournaments — the Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia in May and the Champions Challenge in Belgium early this month.
On Friday, Tirkey got some more good news. An injury to his right knee was diagnosed as not serious by orthopedic surgeon Dr Anant Joshi. "It’s a minor injury to the right knee muscles. Dr Joshi has prescribed some stretching exercises, regular icing and plenty of rest," said chief coach Joaquim Carvalho, who had called Tirkey from Orissa for a check-up in Mumbai.
Tirkey, who had felt some discomfort during the camp for the Champions Challenge in Bangalore, played in Belgium with his knee heavily strapped. The visit came as a timely boost as he can now prepare for the next camp in earnest. And the confidence showed as he tackled questions on his own and the team’s performance.
Though many people will consider India’s inability to win the Champions Challenge and make it back to the elite Champions Trophy as a failure, Tirkey says the team should be given more time to improve and show results.
"The team that went to Belgium had 6-7 youngsters who were playing at that level for the first time,” he said. “But they played really well — I haven’t seen any Indian team in recent times that dominated a strong outfit like Argentina for long periods and earned a dozen penalty corners. Agreed, we failed to convert chances and could not reach the final. But the players are young. You have to give them more time."
Tirkey expressed confidence that the team will continue its development curve during the Asia Cup, to be held in Chennai from September 1, and will be able to qualify for the Beijing Olympics. “After many years, we have a good team in place,” he said. “We have a mixture of young and experienced players. Joaquim Sir works hard and his presence inspires the players to give their best.