In Hockey, they say, “Hustle and hit, and never quit.”. A similar thought runs through the mind of hockey player and coach, Abhishek Mishra. Born and brought up in Dehradun, 28 years old Abhishek is living his dream of playing and teaching hockey at a professional level.
Since adolescence, he has been inclined towards the sport and played his 1st Sub Junior Nationals at Bhopal in Hockey when he was 17.
Currently, he is working as a coach at Naval Tata Hockey Academy – High Performance Centre.
He is also pursuing Masters in Sports Science and High Performance from UCAM University, Spain with the help SportzNext Institute. He is an aspiring sports scientist and high performance coach
He draws inspiration from his father, Shri Rajendra Kumar Mishra, who himself was the star hockey player and captain of the Uttar Pradesh Senior National team for 5 consecutive years and is the only player to be selected in the Indian Olympics Camp on the spot right in the middle of a Federation Cup match.
In India, it is common knowledge that Hockey does not receive its due prominence, despite being the national game of the country.
Abhishek believes that the major reasons behind this are lack of infrastructure in hockey ranging from poor execution of funds and poor equipment and facilities etc. and lack of decent rewards, awards, money and recognition.
In an exclusive interview with DehradunTales, he mentions,
“If we focus more on highlighting the sport by giving due importance to what a sportsperson in hockey deserves, then it would really attract the youth to choose it as their sport.”
Apart from hockey, his hobbies include singing, playing guitar and the piano. He also writes his own songs and composes music.
With his diligent efforts, Abhishek strives to improve the condition of hockey by coaching more and more youngsters in the field of hockey. However, he contemplates that only little can be done on an individual level and we need to adopt a holistic mechanism to elevate the condition of hockey in our country.
DehradunTales applauds the efforts of Abhishek in his quest and wishes him good luck in his future endeavors.
Read through his journey, his views on hockey, his hobbies, favorite players and more.
Before going into the details of your journey, please tell us something about yourself.
I am 28 years old. I was born and brought up in Dehradun. I belong to a decent middle-class family. I started my schooling in St. Jude’s School. According to my teachers, I was a very shy but artistic child. From 3rd standard I pursued school from St. Thomas College where sports pulled me in.
It is at that time that I really got into sports which enhanced my overall personality both physically and mentally.
I neither wanted to be an engineer and doctor nor an IAS officer, so I never had very high expectations with my grades and studies.
When I was in 9th Standard my father got posted to Delhi and so we moved in 2004 and my higher schooling began there at Greenway Modern School.
I played basketball with the school team and won several tournaments there for the school. In 2007, I played my 1st Sub Junior Nationals at Bhopal in Hockey when I was in 11th standard.
Next year in my 12th standard I got selected for prestigious Sports Authority of India, SAI and so dropped out my regular schooling and joined SAI as a Hockey Player.
I have recently joined as a coach at Naval Tata Hockey Academy – High Performance Centre.
How did you conceive the idea of becoming a hockey player?
When I came back after playing my 1st sub junior nationals, my father shared his stories of hockey filled with so many successes and failures.
The biggest regret he had was of not being selected in the 1992 Olympics team due to internal politics. He was very upset and emotional which left a mark on my heart.
So, I decided to pursue his dreams further and chose to start my journey to become a Hockey Player.
How do you see the condition and future of hockey in India?
Hockey India is doing a great job in improving the condition of hockey in India as they are educating the coaches with modern ways and techniques of playing hockey.
They are training the coaches to implement the better techniques of hockey at grass root level in India. This will definitely help us get positive results in the game and improve the country’s world ranking..
Do you find being a hockey coach, a financially viable career option in India?
I believe that the salary at the initial level is slightly meagre and should definitely be boosted up a bit to make it an attractive career option for hockey players. Besides it, frequent increments will also be a motivating factor for the coaches to contribute more.
India is lagging in the field of physical education and sports club culture. If we improve in these aspects, then we can generate more revenue from the sports.
What kind of challenges do you face as a coach?
Majority of parents in India are unaware about the benefits of physical education and sports. Due to lack of education among the youths in sports, they are less interested in this field.
They are more interested in playing online games and less in real life sports because real sport requires an individual to leave his/her comfort zone and work hard, shed sweat and strive for better physical structure.
Infrastructure also plays an important role and at the same time lack of funding and politics are crucial aspects. Most of the funds are not utilized for what they are sanctioned but for personal use of some people.
Poor quality of sports equipment, poor diet and lack of other facilities are the reasons behind present condition of sports in India. In case of injury, better care-taking facilities and expertise are required. Coaches can tackle some of these challenges only upto a certain extent.
How can we encourage more youngsters to take hockey as a serious professional sport?
If we focus more on highlighting the sport by giving due importance to what a sportsperson in hockey deserves, then it would really attract the youth to choose it as their sport.
Also, if there is decent money along with recognition even the parents would encourage their children to play hockey. So, I think if these aspects are worked out properly, we can pull more youth into the sport, which would really help with the betterment of hockey in the future.
What measures do you think the government should take to promote hockey?
The government is doing great with the “Khelo India” project that provides great exposure to the players from school level to university level.
Students having extraordinary talent are also provided with scholarships. They also get a chance to get selected for the national team. This is promoting the overall games in the nation.
Just like Khelo India, government should run more such programs especially for the development of sports in rural areas.
For hockey I think that there should be more development of hockey turf grounds in India which although expensive but much safer than the grass grounds.
Hockey is the national game of India and should be made compulsory in schools. The government should also strive for maintaining the legacy of consistently winning 8 Gold medals in successive Olympic games.
Apart from Hockey, what other hobbies do you pursue?
I like music and playing instruments. Atif Aslam is my favorite singer. He is the person who inspired me to sing and play guitar. Mostly, I like Bollywood songs.
I also write my own songs and I compose my own music as well. I am waiting for the right moment to release it soon after a bit of settlement in life because it requires a good amount of time and effort.
Apart from Guitar, I play Piano sometimes because my brother Apratim Mishra is a pianist and guitarist as well. We both have done a short course in Sound Engineering and Music Production from Delhi.
Who is your role model or source of inspiration?
Nobody is perfect. So, I am not convinced with the idea of one person being my role model. I learn different things from different people, no matter how highly or little successful they are.
I try to learn more and more from most of the people I meet. Every person is carrying a great story and bunch of experiences in their own life to share.
My inspiration is my Father Shri Rajendra Kumar Mishra and my Mother Late Smt Shashi Mishra, and I am not saying this just because they are my parents, but they are the reason why I strive to be a better person every day.
I have been living alone in New Delhi for last 5 years and I know how difficult it is to keep yourself always on the right path. There are lots of distraction which can lead to a wrong path. But it’s always our own choice.
The ethics and lessons that my mother taught me are very valuable and it keeps me strong from within and the lessons and experiences that my father gave me, make me more practical in life and give me strength to overcome all problems of life. I am thankful to them and will always be.
Who are your favorite sportsperson from hockey and other games?
My father is my favorite hockey player because he was the star player and captain of Uttar Pradesh Senior National team for 5 consecutive years. He is the only player to be selected in the Indian Olympics Camp on the spot right in the middle of a Federation Cup match.
My batch mates and brother from another mother – Kothajit Singh and Raju Pal are also my favorite players.
I like Lionel Messi from football & Roger Federer from Tennis .
What are your immediate future plans and where do you see yourself 10 year down the line?
My immediate future plan is to get settled and have a secure job so that I can work on my long-term future plans. In next 10 years I would be continuously working in development of sports in the country and would establish a business in the sports industry.
Your message to the readers of DehradunTales.
My message for the readers of DehardunTales is that:
Choose a sport in your life whichever you love and continue it because when you indulge in sporting activities then it benefits you in many ways.
Sweat every day, create physical challenges for yourself while doing physical activities, It makes you aware of the physical strength and requirements you need in your day to day activities and also keeps you prepared for any unforeseen circumstances where you need your physical strength as well as mental strength.
A fit body has a fit mind and only fit mind can have a fit body. A perfect balance is created with this combination.
I would also say that please keep our Dehradun city green and clean. Plant trees wherever possible and try not to litter in public or tourist places. Lots of love to everyone. Also keep smiling because good luck comes to those who smile.
In the end, I just want to thank team DehradunTales, It was great to have this interview with you guys, you are yourself great personalities and I wish you all the success in the future with great health and wealth.