The 30-year-old is one of the most experienced players in the national team.

The Indian men’s hockey team defender Birendra Lakra has faced several odds in his long career in International hockey. One of the greatest tests he was put through was in 2016 when he suffered a career-threatening knee injury that forced him to miss the Rio Olympic Games. This testing period is something he recalls now and then to keep himself motivated.

“When I was injured in 2016, there were a lot of uncertainties as to whether I will be able to play again. But what helped was the fantastic support system I had and thanks to Hockey India who ensured I got the best treatment and rehab. I was able to return to competitive hockey in 8-10 months. With activities resuming only in the past three weeks and no competition at the moment due to the pandemic, I often recall my injury phase to stay motivated and tell myself this phase will pass soon,” said Birendra Lakra.

He pointed out that it is important for all athletes to remain positive and motivated. The defender explained, “This situation is something no one would have faced before but as athletes we need to have a positive outlook and it is important to remain motivated. When I was injured, it used to bother me a lot that I couldn’t do most of the things I could have normally done, I was dependent on someone else. Also watching my teammates play matches and I couldn’t, it was difficult. But that phase has helped me face the challenges during lockdown.”

As global hockey resumed with the FIH Hockey Pro League earlier this week, Birendra Lakra is optimistic about the team’s future. He said, “Personally, I feel it’s great that we could return to National Camp. Thanks to Hockey India, we are probably one of the few sports in the country who are able to begin sports activities and ensure our preparations for Olympics are not too hampered.”

“Though there is no competition in the upcoming months, it was very important to return to Camp so that we could start slow, not rush into getting back to form. It was important to do this in order to avoid any injuries because we were restarting after a long gap,” explained the experienced defender.”

Watching the matches between Germany and Belgium has been insightful and the team was tasked with an assignment to analyze these matches.

“We all were asked to analyze these matches closely. It was interesting to see Germany bounce back in the second match and win 1-0 in the shootout after losing first match 1-6. It exciting to see hockey resume at the global level. As a team, we are preparing for different scenarios that we could face in the lead-up to the Olympic Games due to this global pandemic and mentally we need to be prepared,” Lakra concluded.