Important to give 100% & have self-belief: Defender Kothajit

Indian men’s hockey team defender Kothajit Singh Khadangbam has revealed that his biggest learnings from the COVID-19 induced lockdown were to value the importance of patience and the requirement of believing in oneself in every situation.

Kothajit utilised the time during the lockdown to ponder about his long international career, spanning over 200 matches for his country.

“It was a difficult time during the lockdown period. Staying away from the hockey pitch is always tough. However, I got a chance to hit the pause button during that time. I have been in the Indian team for around seven years and therefore I could utilise the lockdown period to think about how I have progressed in my career,” said the 28-year-old.

“I have certainly realised that being patient and continuing to persevere are the key elements in any sportsperson’s life. Opportunities will come and go, but the important thing is to keep giving my hundred per cent and believing in myself every time I am on the pitch,” he added.

While speaking about the things that kept him motivated during the lockdown, Kothajit said that regular fitness training at the Sports Authority of India campus in Bengaluru was a huge blessing for him.

“Maintaining our physical fitness was our biggest goal during the lockdown. Consistent exercise certainly helps one to be mentally and physically fresh. Carrying out the fitness schedules was the best part of my day. It helped me to stay motivated during a difficult time.

“I also watched a lot of footage of my previous matches and I have noted down certain aspects that I will need to work on in the upcoming months. Watching hockey matches and doing stickwork drills were major sources of motivation as well,” said Kothajit.

The defender, who missed out on the FIH Olympic Qualifiers last year, was delighted to be called back to the national squad ahead of the FIH Hockey Pro League 2020 matches against the Netherlands.

“It was certainly difficult to miss out on playing one of the biggest tournaments like the FIH Olympic Qualifiers. However, it was wonderful to see our team book a berth at the Tokyo Olympics in front of our home crowd.

“We have a lot of talented defenders in our team and it’s great to compete for a spot in the national squad. It really shows the kind of quality we have on our side. It was amazing to be back in the Indian squad earlier this year.

“Hopefully, I can keep putting in the hard yards in the training sessions in the future and be a consistent member of the Indian side for the upcoming matches,” said Kothajit.

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