India’s Under-18 hockey team skipper Nilam Sanjeep Xess, who is making his Hockey India League (HIL) debut in the upcoming edition, on Wednesday said playing in the cash-rich league will go a long way in helping him improve his overall game.
The teenage defender, who hails from Bargarh district in Odisha, said the league will also help him to find a route to improve financial situation back home.
“This is a huge opportunity for me. While I am very nervous to play against such top players in Coal India HIL, I am aware this exposure will make a lot of difference to my game,” he said in a release.
“The money (approx Rs 2 lakh) from HIL will help me buy a kit and shoes. I also want to send some money for my parents as it will help them a great deal,” he added.
The HIL begins on January 21 and the last edition runners-up Lancers began their camp on Tuesday. “I am very excited. It is slowly starting to sink in that I will be playing with senior players. At the camp, I got to meet Devinder Walmiki, Pardeep Mor, Lalit Upadhyay and Dharamvir Singh from the senior squad,” Sanjeep said.
“I also keep in regular touch with Birendra Lakra and Dipsan Tirkey (both from Odisha) to understand the challenges in the league and how I can keep calm. They motivate me a lot,” the defender said.
Sanjeep made his India debut at the 12th South Asian Games last year in Guwahati. He was also part of the Junior India World Cup probables’ camp at Sports Authority of India (SAI), South Centre in Bengaluru.
He threw light on how useful the SAI camp for him, especially developing his drag-flicking skills.
“That camp was very useful for me though I didn’t make it to the team. I am a defender and drag-flicker and I got to practice a lot with Harmanpreet Singh and worked on my technique.
“He is extremely good at drag-flicking and he motivates me a lot. The Junior World Cup win is a big inspiration for youngsters like me and I wish to emulate the team’s success in the future tournaments,” Sanjeep said.