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India need to develop hockey from grassroots: PR Sreejesh

India need to develop hockey from grassroots: PR Sreejesh

Kochi: Architect of India's memorable hockey win against Pakistan in the Asiad final, goalkeeper P R Sreejesh Thursday said that the quality of domestic players was low and stressed the need to develop the sport from the grassroot level to get more international medals.

"The quality of players at the domestic level is very low when they come to the Indian camp. From that level to reach the international level, they will have to do lot of hard work at the Indian camp," Sreejesh said at a meet-the-press programme organised by the Ernakulam Press club here.

The India vice-captain, who effected brilliant saves in the shoot-out helping the team clinch an Asian Games gold after 16 years, said it would take a year to reach international standards.

Sreejesh said that Australia, who have maintained their supremacy at the top for quite sometime now, have reached the present level after a sustained programme of 20 years. "In India we want instant results. We also need to work long term," he said.

Pointing out that the Indian squad was fully confident of winning the gold in the recent Asian Games, he said they had gone with a positive approach. "We had not gone to defeat Pakistan, but to win gold for India," he said adding this positive approach helped the team.

Sreejesh rued that goalkeepers were not being given their due. "Today I am a hero because of the saves. But If I had failed in saving the goal-bound shots in the Asiad finals, I would have been called a traitor," he said.

"Even if they effect brilliant saves, their feat was not appreciated. "But if they fail to save a goal, the goalee has to shoulder all the blame for the team's loss," he added.

Sreejesh, who has been offered the post of District Sports Officer in the education department by the Kerala Government to identify sports talents, said he would accept the offer.

Presently working in IOB Chennai, the Kerala star said he was keen to return to the state and do whatever he can for hockey.

He also wants the state government to provide astro turf facility at Kochi.

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