India dragflicker Rupinder Pal Singh feels the second season FIH Pro League is taking place at the right time since it will help the players to prepare for the Tokyo Olympics. The inaugural edition of the FIH Pro League took place between January and June earlier this year in the Netherlands, which India skipped and Australia were crowned winners.
However, with an eye of Tokyo 2020, India will be taking part in the second edition of the tournament and Rupinder, who made his comeback in the Olympics Qualifiers last week, is confident it will provide a picture of the team’s strength and weaknesses.
“The FIH Pro League was a great success in its first edition, and we are all very excited to be a part of it next year. These matches will be a great test for us, especially playing against the best teams from around the world. We will be hosting as well as touring some very strong teams in the next eight months,” he said.
“Our aim was to qualify for the Olympics, and now that we have secured our place, it is now time to put everything into preparation for the Olympic Games. We have nine months to prepare for the quadrennial event, and playing in the FIH Pro League will serve as good preparation for us.
As per schedule, India’s campaign will kick off against the Netherlands on January 18 and 19, 2020 before hosting Belgium on February 8 and 9. On the 23rd and 24th of that month, India will host world champions Australia before leaving to play against Germany and Great Britain.
India will return to play on home soil on May 23 and 24 against New Zealand before travelling to Argentina to play on June 5 and 6. They will play the last leg of the Pro League round-robin matches in Spain on June 13 and 14.
“We will be able to determine where we stand against the top teams, and we will have enough time to make improvements and corrections in our game leading up to the Olympics,” Rupinder said.
Having made a comeback to the Indian hockey team, Rupinder’s playing career received a fresh lease of life. Rupinder, 32, was dropped after the 2018 Asian Games, which led him to miss the Hockey World Cup. He did return for the tour of Australia in April this year but had to miss out again for the FIH Series final in July. Rupinder admitted the snub had him contemplate retirement but he managed to pick himself up from the setback and work his way to the top.
“It was an amazing feeling to be back in India blue colours after having missed out on some major tournaments last year. I was determined to perform well for my team, and make sure that we secured our place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games,” he said.