With the clock ticking towards the Tokyo Olympics, Indian hockey team defender Varun Kumar is thrilled to be wearing the blue jersey again after being selected by chief coach Graham Reid for the tour of Argentina.
In 2016, defender Varun was seen as one of the most promising talents to emerge from India's victorious Men's Hockey Junior World Cup side. It didn't take much time before Varun made his presence felt in the senior team as well but since 2019, a series of injury setbacks meant that the 25-year-old had to wait for his chance to make a comeback. Varun's last international outing was in October 2019 during India's tour of Belgium.
"I am extremely happy to make a comeback after one year and five months. It took me five-six months to recover from my shoulder injury and then I contracted Covid-19 as well. In the meanwhile, I also suffered a hamstring injury. My world had collapsed at that point," Varun said in a Hockey India release.
Recurring injuries can debilitate any player's progress, but thankfully for Varun, he had wise heads around him telling him to not lose heart, and wait for his chance to shine again.
"The key was to stay motivated and be patient for opportunities to come your way. It wasn't easy for me. Being out for a long period would sometimes take a toll on me mentally and my mind would begin to wander. I slowly began to accept that such injuries, and the subsequent layoff periods, are a part and parcel of a player's life," he said.
"My coaches and the senior players in the side such as Manpreet Singh, PR Sreejesh and Rupinder Pal Singh guided me a lot. They are big players who have seen many highs and lows in their careers. They told me to work hard on regaining my fitness and giving my 100 per cent once the opportunity comes along. Their advice helped me immensely," Varun added. With the Olympics just months away, Varun has only one target in mind -- to make the cut for the flight to Tokyo. He remains confident of months of hard work paying off for him.
The Indian team will take on Olympic Champions Argentina in the FIH Hockey Pro League matches on April 11 and 12 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They will also play two practice matches against the home team on April 6 and 7.
( With inputs from ANI )
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