Having debuted for the Indian team in May 2015 against Japan during a Test Series in Bhubaneswar, Harmanpreet Singh has come a long way in the Indian Men's Hockey Team, and has gained a repute of being a reliable drag-flicker, defender in the current Indian squad.
On being named the Captain of the Indian Men's Team for the Olympic Test event in Japan where India will take on nemesis Malaysia, New Zealand and hosts Japan starting 17 August 2019, the 23-year-old Harmanpreet feels he is ready for the new challenge.
"When I was told that I would be leading the team, it was a pleasant surprise. It is an honour and big responsibility. I am excited and looking forward to the challenge," said the ace Indian drag-flicker who was part of the India Colts team that won the FIH Junior Men's World Cup in 2016.
He was one of the youngest in the Indian unit that played at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, a place he secured after a memorable outing in the FIH Champions Trophy in London only months before the quadrennial sporting extravaganza. The Indian team won a historic Silver Medal at the FIH Champions Trophy, and Harmanpreet Singh was then adjudged the Rising Player of the Tournament. He has since stepped up as a player and has often come up with versatile performances in key International tournaments.
"When I look back, I feel fortunate to have come into the Indian team at a time when there were stalwart players from whom I could learn a lot. Players like Sardar Singh and VR Raghunath had a positive impact on my nascent days in the Senior team and their guidance helped me soak up the pressures of International hockey," reckoned Harmanpreet.
Speaking of the task ahead, Harmanpreet said they will be leaving for Japan with an intent to win the tournament.
"Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand are good teams to play against and see where we stand as a unit ahead of the Olympic Qualifiers. Malaysia recently beat Germany in a match and Japan too are doing well while New Zealand is coming into the event with good exposure from the FIH Pro League. In the absence of senior players who are rested, it is important we step-up our game. We are well-prepared, having attended a special Goalkeepers Camp and Defenders Camp. We will be playing every match with the intent to win," he stated.