Bengaluru (Karnataka) [India], May 22 (ANI): For Indian men's team midfielder Jaskaran Singh, his childhood memories are all about hockey. Hockey is in Jaskaran's blood. He is the son of Olympian and former India coach Rajinder Singh Jr.
The 27-year-old midfielder, who honed his skills under his Olympian father, represented Punjab and Sind Bank Hockey Academy at the National Hockey Championship from the year 2012 to 2019.
"I started playing hockey because of my father, who is an Olympian. He was a part of the 1984 Olympics team. He also coached the National Team in the 2000s. So, my childhood memories are all about hockey. Not only that I grew up watching him, but I also honed my skills under him. He is my first coach and my inspiration. He is the reason why I started playing hockey and he is the reason why I am here today," said Jaskaran in an official Hockey India release.
"I couldn't do much at the junior level. But, after all the hard work and with the help of my father's motivation and guidance, I got my maiden call-up for the national camp in 2019, while playing for the Punjab and Sind Bank Hockey Academy. I also made my debut in the same year, and after that, I have never looked back. Just like my father, I want to represent our nation at the Olympics," he added.
Speaking about the equation with his compatriots from the same city -- Mandeep Singh and Manpreet Singh -- the Jalandhar-born player said: "We live nearby, our homes are around 2-3 kilometres apart. They both have been helping me a lot, Mandeep is my roommate here (at the camp), so it helps a lot. Moreover, you know, on the field it's important to have a good understanding between a midfielder and a striker, and I feel that understanding comes naturally to us because we have been playing together for a long time."
"Even Manpreet along with other senior players in the team also guide me throughout. Whenever I feel I am in doubt, I speak to them to get better clarity," he added.
While reflecting on his first Argentina tour and career's third international tour, Jaskaran said: "It was my first Argentina tour, I was playing internationally after a very long time, so I was focused on giving my 100 per cent. Coaches gave me an opportunity to express myself on the field and I had their support throughout the tour. Senior players also motivated me and gave me the confidence to compete against the Olympic Champions. They helped me improve on my mistakes throughout the tour. So, it was a great learning experience for me personally."
The 27-year-old midfielder is currently training with the men's senior core group at the Sports Authority of India (SAI), Centre in Bengaluru. Speaking about the Olympics preparations, Jaskaran said, "We are really in a good shape, and preparing well for the Olympics.
"We are currently putting in the hard work, working on our structure, and focusing on covering all the bases. I feel we are giving each other good competition in our training, which I feel is bringing out the best of us." (ANI)