Having received his first ever call-up for the Indian Senior Men’s core probable group, 21-year-old goalkeeper from Mumbai Suraj Karkera wants to make the most out of this opportunity without being too ambitious about finding his name in the national squad for the forthcoming Hockey World League Finals that will take place in Bhubaneswar
“Thinking about my debut with the senior men’s team is farfetched. Right now, all I want to do is focus on my basics, improve my confidence and understand the demands of playing hockey at this level,” said the youngster who made his Junior India debut at the Six Nation Volvo International Tournament in 2015.
Since his debut, Karkera was a regular member in the junior squad and represented the country at the England Tour, EurAsia Cup 2016 and also accompanied the team for the Four Nation Tournament in Valencia, Spain last year. Though he missed out on making it for the Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup 2016 in Lucknow where his compatriots Vikas Dahiya and Krishan Pathak were chosen ahead of him, he says he has no regrets of missing out.
“It was a 50-50 feeling. I knew these guys were better than me so I am not disappointed about not being part of the Junior World Cup winning team.” he says.
For a youngster like him, being mentored by Indian Senior Men’s team Goalkeeper PR Sreejesh is the highlight of his career so far.
“I have followed Sreejesh’s game very closely. He has raised the bar for goalkeepers in India and youngsters like me are aware that we need to come at least close to his keeping skills if not match him to earn a spot in the team. I get to learn a lot from him and I watch him carefully in the camp. The way he treats the juniors is also very encouraging. I have never felt odd working with a senior of his stature,” expressed Karkera.