Indian Men’s Hockey Team’s midfielder Nilakanta Sharma has over the years shown significant performances which has helped him cement his place in the team. At the recently held Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 where India won the historic bronze, Nilakanta was impressive in the midfield as his executed the team’s plans and showed why he is a team player. He believes there is still a lot more for him to improve ahead of an important calendar year in 2022.
He said, “I have had some time to introspect about my own performance over these past few years with the Senior team. I think I have been very fortunate to have played along with some of the best players in India and have been able to learn a lot from them. I always like to keep things simple and execute what is expected of me from the team. Each player is assigned a certain role by the coach and I just try to stick to it.”
Nilakanta was also instrumental in India’s successful campaign at the FIH Junior Men’s World Cup in 2016 and he came into the senior setup in 2017. There has been no looking back for this youngster from Manipur. “I believe there is a lot of scope for me to improve my own game from here on and build on this performance in Tokyo. It was absolutely an incredible feeling to win the Bronze Medal and I have received a lot of love from the people of Manipur all through my career.”
“Definitely there is a lot of potential for Manipur Hockey to grow further. A lot of good things are happening in the state and the emphasis is on creating good infrastructure. I hope my performance in Tokyo has inspired more youngsters from my state to take up hockey,” stated the 26-year-old.
Having got a good break following the Olympics, Nilakanta is now eager to regroup with his teammates in SAI, Bengaluru when the National Coaching Camp begins in October. “We will now sit down as a team and analyse our performance in the Olympics. I personally like these team meetings because everyone contributes and gets to put across their views. We discuss what worked for us as a team and what didn’t. Also, there is so much to learn from the leadership group which includes the senior players and I am looking forward to returning to Camp,” he concluded.