Manpreet Singh As the captain of one of the best-known sports teams in a country with a population of 1.3 billion – almost a fifth of the world’s population – it is not surprising that Manpreet Singh takes his leadership role with the Indian men’s hockey team very seriously.
It is a top-class position that is associated with great responsibility, intensive examination, and a considerable expectation weight. Millions of Indians absolutely want the eight-time Olympic champion to dominate the sport again.
Judging by the team’s recent appearances, these fans seem to have the right to believe that a big title could be just around the corner. In 2012, when a young man struggled to establish himself in the senior team, India’s men ranked 12th in the FIH world rankings. Eight years of steady progress later, they are in fourth place, the highest position since the ranking was introduced in 2003.
Before the global health crisis of COVID-19 brought competition to a standstill, India’s home performances in the FIH Hockey Pro League certainly impressed many viewers this season. At the Bhubaneswar Kalinga Stadium, the Manpreet team achieved an excellent win against the reigning world and European champions Belgium, a triumph over second-placed Australia, and a nice 5-2 win over the Netherlands, who are in third place.
Manpreet, now 27 and the FIH Hockey Stars player of the year 2019, has been captain of the team since June 2017 and succeeds the great Sardar Singh. Manpreet quotes Sardar as an extremely influential personality who has taught him a lot about how to be a good leader.
The European legends Moritz Fürste and Barry Middleton – the respective former captains of Germany and Great Britain, on whose side Manpreet competed in the Hockey India League – also outstanding role models in the art of the captain.
The two-time Olympian, who, like his football idols Cristiano Ronaldo and David Beckham, wears the legendary number seven jersey, has set himself the goal of leading his team to a medal at the late 2020 Tokyo Olympics, which will take place in 2021.
In conversation with FIH from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in Bangalore, where the athletes of the men’s and women’s national team follow individual training plans in their rooms and are monitored online by their coaches, India’s inspiring captain talks to FIH about his career. Ambitions and those who have significantly influenced his life as an international.
What is your biggest future ambition with the Indian team?
Manpreet Singh: “I couldn’t have done it without the support of my teammates and the coaching staff. I’m here just for you today. My biggest ambition as a captain and player is to win a medal for the nation at the Olympic Games. “
Who or what made you take a stick and play hockey first?
Manpreet Singh: “My two older brothers played hockey as a child, and the second is former Indian hockey captain Sardar Purashkar Singh.”
Who influenced your career the most and why?
Manpreet Singh: “At the moment I would say, Cristiano Ronaldo. There are so many things about him that I admire. One of them is to never give up what you do and keep pushing yourself to be the best. “
How would you best describe your style of play or your attitude on the field?
Manpreet Singh: “I would say that when [India] plays, everyone is a captain in their own way, but I always have to set a good example, especially for the juniors [players]. When I got the chance to play with Moritz Fürste, Barry Middleton, and Sardar Singh, I learned a lot about how to be a positive and supportive captain. “
What moment in the field are you most proud of and why?
Manpreet Singh: “It would be the 2014 Asian Games [Incheon, KOR] when we won our gold medal. Secondly, it would be as captain of the Asia Cup 2017, where we also won a gold medal in Dhaka Bangladesh. “
What would be the best advice you could give budding young hockey players?
Manpreet Singh: “My advice to young ice hockey players is never to give up, just believe in yourself and keep working hard towards your goal, that’s it.”
What have you done to stay active and healthy during COVID-19’s ongoing global health crisis?
Manpreet Singh: “In addition to playing FIFA on PlayStation, I did my personal training, relaxation, and fitness work [in my room] and was monitored [over the Internet] by our trainer using the given (personal) schedule.”