Indian Keeper Sreejesh Leaves World Cup to Attend to Ailing Father
Moments after the India vs Belgium Pool C match at the Hockey World Cup in Odisha on 2 December, former captain and goalkeeper Sreejesh PR was left devastated.
A night before, his father Raveendran has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a Kochi hospital with complaints of chest pain. Raveendran, who had suffered a heart attack last year, was rushed to the hospital later on the night on 1 December and the family chose to hide it from Sreejesh who was preparing for the crucial match against Belgium.
As his team-mates savoured the 2-2 draw against the world number 3 Belgium in what was a good result for them, Sreejesh got the news about his father's illness at the ground itself.
“I was left devastated,” Sreejesh told The Quint from Kochi on Wednesday as he prepared to take a flight back to Bhubaneswar. He said:
“I was not feeling well from the morning of the match and felt very uneasy. I had no idea that my father was admitted to the hospital since last night but for some reason, I couldn’t sleep the entire night. After the match, the family told me that dad was very unwell and required a heart surgery. It was very tough.”
Given the five-day gap between India’s matches – the hosts next play Canada on 8 December – Sreejesh was granted permission to go home and visit his father.
“The India-Belgium match was the first one that my dad missed watching me in his life and we didn’t discuss about it. He has had a surgery yesterday and now he is recovering.
“I am in a good frame of mind after seeing him. It is the World Cup and we all are motivated to do well for the country. Personally, I am extra motivated now to do it from my father as well. Even if it’s from the hospital, at least he would be able to see me play.
“I will give my 200 percent now to make sure my country and father both are very proud of me,” said the former skipper, who is considered the team’s back bone.
The Indian team underwent an intense training session this morning minus Sreejesh, who would join his team mates later this evening.
“Sreejesh’s father has gone through a major operation so he was allowed to go home for two days. The team had two off days and it was important that he could see his father and attend to him in the hospital,” said chief coach Harendra Singh.
Sreejesh, who left home at the age of 12 to join a sports hostel, is very attached to his father. Raveendran, a farmer by profession and a strict disciplinarian, had sold his cow for a meagre sum to help his son pursue his dream of having a career in sports.
"He has made a lot of sacrifices for me. There were times when we didn't even have Rs 100 at home but my parents let me take up sport. If I became anything it is because of them. I want to do everything possible for them so that they can lead a comfortable life now," Sreejesh had told this correspondent recently.
India next play Canada on 8 December and Sreejesh will resume his practice in Odisha soon.