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Vivek Sagar Prasad — Beating the World Champions, maintaining the same intensity in Olympic qualifiers and more

Vivek Sagar Prasad — Beating the World Champions, maintaining the same intensity in Olympic qualifiers and more

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Published: 23 Oct 2019 1:37 PM GMT

In January 2018, midfielder Vivek Sagar Prasad became the second-youngest player in history to make his senior team debut for India when they faced Japan in the 4-Nations Invitational Tournament in New Zealand, aged just 17 years, 10 months and 22 days. The Madhya Pradesh Hockey Academy-graduate has since impressed many with his performances in the midfield for the Indian team, having played at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, 2018 Asian Games, FIH Men's Champions Trophy 2018, and the 3rd Youth Olympic Games 2018 since making his senior team debut.

Vivek, now 19, has come a long way since making his debut for India, and believes that his game has also improved a lot. "Having been picked for the senior team at such a young age, it was not easy for me when I first came into the side. The intensity and skill required at the senior level, compared to the junior level, was definitely more, but I feel I have adjusted pretty well. I made my debut under Coach Sjoerd Marijne back in 2018, and he also gave me a lot of confidence. The transition has not been easy, but I feel I have improved a lot since last year, and with the help of my teammates, and my Coaches, I have been able to help the team in executing their plans," said Vivek.

Currently working hard in training at the Kalinga Hockey Stadium with his teammates who are scheduled to take on World No. 22 Russia in their FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha, Vivek says that his side are not taking their opponents lightly. "For us, it is always about producing our best performance on the field regardless of the opponent we face. We had a very good preparatory tour of Belgium where we beat the World Champions and the Spanish team quite comprehensively. The Chief Coach also spoke to us after the tour and he was happy with the level of intensity we showed throughout the tour, and we will be aiming to do the same when we take on Russia here in Bhubaneswar," said the 19-year-old.

Vivek's meteoric rise can be credited to his impressive performances with the Junior team at the Sultan of Johor Cup in October 2017, where he was also the Captain of the team. It was his first tour with the national team at any level, and the boy from Madhya Pradesh did not disappoint as he also won the Best Player of the Tournament Award with his team winning the Bronze Medal. "It was a great first tour for me personally, but of course I would have loved to win the Gold Medal. I was also given the responsibility of Captaining the side, so that lifted my performances also I feel. But the best thing about that tour was that I was called up for the Senior camp after that, and my journey started from thereon," said Vivek.


"Every player wants to play at the Olympic Games, and my dream is the same. I know we have the team to perform well at next year's Olympics but we don't want to look too far ahead of us. Right now our focus is on the upcoming two matches against Russia, and we will continue to work hard to perform well in those matches. After that, we can look forward to the Olympics," said Vivek.

The midfielder who has 57 International Caps to his name, also spoke about the positive influence senior players like Sardar Singh and PR Sreejesh have had on his game. "I was really young when I was called up for the National Camp, and it was a dream come true for me to be playing alongside legends like Sardar Singh. He was always there to guide me in my initial days, and just speaking to him would lift my confidence. The good thing about the team has been that I have always received good advice from the experienced players like Manpreet bhai and Sreejesh bhai and for me, it has translated into good performances on the field. It is an important time for our team, and I am really looking forward to contributing in securing our place at next year's Tokyo Olympics," signed off Vivek, who was also named as the Best Young Player at the FIH Men's Series Finals Bhubaneswar Odisha 2019.

The Indian Men's Hockey team will be vying for an Olympic berth when they take on Russia in the crucial FIH Olympic Qualifiers to be held on November 1 and 2 at the iconic Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. For the very first time, the Indian Women's Hockey team too will be playing in front of the hockey-loving people of Odisha when they take on USA in the FIH Olympic Qualifiers at the Kalinga Stadium on November 1 and 2. The excitement among the teams is palpable and they are working towards peaking at this important event. Having represented India at the Rio Olympics after 36 years, the women's team will be aiming to take part in their second consecutive Olympics in the history of Indian hockey and they are confident of making history. Make sure you witness history unfold at the Kalinga Stadium by booking your tickets.

The winners of the FIH Hockey Olympic Qualifiers Odisha will qualify for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. The winners will be determined as follows: teams will be ranked according to the number of points each has accumulated in both matches (for each match, 3 points are awarded to the winner, 1 point to each team in the event of a draw and 0 point to the loser). If there is equality among the two teams, then the teams will be ranked according to their respective goal difference. If the equality remains, a shoot-out competition will be played to establish the winner. Therefore, the objective of both the Indian Men's and Indian Women's Hockey Teams will be to secure direct qualification for the Tokyo 2020 hockey tournaments - which will be staged in Japan’s capital city from 25 July to 7 August next year and involve 12 Men’s and 12 Women’s teams.

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