Dilpreet Singh keen to make the most of second chance
Indian hockey team striker Dilpreet Singh won’t forget the 2018 season anytime soon.
Running on the back of some fantastic performances in the junior circuit, the Amritsar lad was fast-tracked into the senior team in a year that saw them play as many as four major competitions.
While opportunities at the highest level were in plenty given the team’s involvement in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, Champions Trophy and the World Cup, a young Dilpreet Singh had to ensure that he settled in soon and was on top of his game when called upon.
The then 18-year-old started his journey on a positive note, scoring goals and proving to be an influential figure in a destructive attack.
But having reached the heights in dizzying fashion, Singh soon found himself sent back to the junior setup.
It was around this time that the senior team too saw a change in management with Australian Graham Reid taking over the role of a chief coach.
Counting on Graham Reid
Known for his ability to trust youngsters and blood fresh talent into the system, the Aussie tactician would be a regular at the junior camp. And it was during one such visit that he noticed Dlipreet Singh.
“I remember, we spoke for quite some time that day,” the young recalled during his chat with Hockey India.
“He wanted to understand my background, how I got into hockey and he was interested to know more about my game though he said he had seen me during the World Cup.”
While speaking to the chief coach gave Dilpreet Singh enough signs of encouragement, he knew the only way back to the side was through persistent hard work.
“He asked me to work hard, improve my attitude, be more disciplined in my game and work on my fitness level if I wanted to make a comeback in senior camp.
“He said if I improved in these areas I had a chance to return and he had also warned that there are a lot of other players waiting to grab this opportunity.”
The pep talk would prove influential for the Indian striker as he put his head down and worked on his game to force a way back into the senior Indian hockey team in the Olympic year.
Back in the reckoning
Called up for their FIH Pro League tie against World Champions Belgium over a year after he last put on the shirt for the senior Indian hockey team, Dilpreet Singh was feeling the nerves. But this time it was the seniors who came to his rescue.
“I did feel the pressure initially but Manpreet (Singh) would have long chats with me building my confidence,” he said.
“When I was called up for the match against Belgium, he told me to play with confidence, focus on the specific role given to me.
“I was quite nervous and was not sure if I was up for the challenge, especially to play against the World Champions where any small mistake could cost us but Manpreet and other seniors gave me that confidence.”
Though Dilpreet Singh didn’t have a telling impact on the tie, he did show flashes of the quality he possesses.
But with a support system that he finds in the Indian hockey team, he could now be set to cement his place in among the elite.