Jakarta: Most athletes are happy to let their performance do the talking but India’s men’s hockey goalkeeper PR Sreejesh sees strenuously exercising his vocal cords a key part of his job.
The 30-year-old was at his best in Sunday’s 5-3 win against South Korea at the Asian Games. But with the reigning champions conceding their first three goals of tournament after a hat-trick of clean sheets, it was little surprise that his teammates came in for a particularly animated harangue from the man between the posts.
Sreejesh, though, explained that it was not just a matter of personal frustration on his part. “That’s my job actually,” he said with a smile, his voice still hoarse from more than an hour of constantly cheering and chiding teammates.
When the team are under pressure, it is the duty of the goalkeeper to cheer the players up. As goalkeeper, I am the second coach of the team, I need to point out mistakes quickly
“It’s very important for a goalkeeper to be vocal. Usually players go quiet under pressure. As a goalkeeper, it’s your duty to bring them back into the game.
“I’m the goalkeeper of this team, which makes me the second coach, who can see the entire field and tell where mistakes are happening. It’s my responsibility to talk to my defenders and my midfielders,” added the mercurial custodian.
A sore threat is often the price he ends up paying for unleashing his verbal volleys and Sreejesh said he had come prepared.
“In our training camp in Bangalore, I did a lot of chattering, which sort of helped me prepare,” he said. “But yes, sometimes you end up with a sore throat when you’re too much into talking.”
Sreejesh snarled and grumbled from behind the grill in the match against South Korea and, on several occasions, took his helmet off to lambast his wayward teammates.
“See, that’s a normal reaction, when your expectations are really high from your teammates,” he pointed out. “When they make silly mistakes, there’s bound to be some anger.”