Chennai: India goalkeeper Krishan Bahadur Pathak feels playing in the Asian Champions Trophy hockey is not only helping in preparing for the Hangzhou Asian Games but it will also benefit teams at Paris Olympics as it will use the same Poligras turf.
Asked about the new turf being laid at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Hockey Stadium here, on which the ACT is being played, he said that the Indian team will have to get used to playing on the surface fast, as the “same turf would also be used” in Paris next summer.
“It’s a really good turf, thanks to the Tamil Nadu government for giving us the benefit of the turf beforehand that will be used during the Olympics.
“Since it’s a new one, it feels kind of heavy. But, we will be getting used to it and gradually become more comfortable. It’s all about how fast we get used to it,” Pathak told PTI.
Poligras Paris GT zero is described as a carbon zero hockey turf, made from 80 percent biobased material – sugarcane.
Its water absorbent properties means lesser water than before needs to be used in its upkeep.
When asked about playing in ACT before the Asian Games, he said, “Whatever tournament I have played till date, all have been special for me. Every tournament’s preparation is different, be it the Pro-League, or the ACT. Even preparations for the Asian Games would be different.
“So, this competition is highly important to us, and we would be able to build confidence from here.
“The teams that would be participating in Hangzhou are the ones featuring in the ACT. There would be a couple of extra teams, probably Sri Lanka and Hong Kong.
“So, overall, it would only benefit us from this tournament as to how can we prepare against them once we head to China.”
The 26-year-old from Kapurthala, Punjab, has been featuring for India quite consistently. He completed his 100 international appearances for the side during the Asian Champions Trophy.
Pathak said that despite his being such a long journey, he keeps learning new things every day.
“We keep learning all the time. Since I arrived from the U-18 team, I have been learning a lot, especially about leadership, how to guide the side from the back and how to work with the defence.
“We regularly keep asking (the seniors). And even if we don’t ask, we learn a lot by just looking at things and experiencing them. So, such things help us a lot in building our career,” he added.
Pathak had taken up the sport at the age of 12 upon his father’s insistence, while he lost his mother at the same age.
After losing his father in 2016, he was selected for the FIH Junior World Cup the same year followed by the India A team during the Australian Hockey League 2017 before making his senior debut in 2018.
Pathak was asked about the most challenging team he has faced in his career. Although he named a couple, he said that nowadays every team is at the same level.
“There have been a lot of them. If you consider Europe, the Netherlands is the one. Australia is also another one. But, most of the teams are at the same level currently.”
Being a goalkeeper in hockey is no easy task. And when asked what is the biggest challenge while manning the post, Pathak said that it’s about dealing with the past, learning from it, and moving along.
“I guess it’s about how you work along with your past. Sometimes, things don’t go your way. The challenge is how you keep progressing away from it; that’s really important.”
After the ACT, India will be featuring in the Asian Games, where a gold medal guarantees a berth at the Paris Olympics.
“Our first focus is to qualify for the (Paris) Olympics through the Asian Games. Only after we have secured it, we will dream or think about playing at the grandest stage.”